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ASTA Joins with UNICEF, ECPAT, WTO in educating public, travel industry

ASTA to lead industry fight against child sex tourism

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) stepped forward to lead the travel industry in an ongoing battle against child sex tourism …

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) stepped forward to lead the travel industry in an ongoing battle against child sex tourism when on March 29, its Executive Committee, acting on behalf of the Board of Directors, adopted the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.

The Code was developed by ECPAT Sweden in coordination with Scandinavian tour operators and the World Tourism Organization (WTO). According to ECPAT, the Code had been formally adopted by only 49 companies worldwide, three of which were in the United States. ASTA is the first association with global reach to adopt the Code.

We in the industry are in a unique position to help put an end to the victimization of children, and ASTA, as the representative of the travel industry, is the group to lead the charge, said Richard M. Copland, CTC, ASTA president and CEO. Nothing would give greater satisfaction to my travel industry colleagues than seeing this scourge eradicated.

Tourism suppliers that adopt the code commit themselves to implement the following six criteria:

  1. To establish an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children.

  2. To train the personnel in the country of origin and travel destinations.

  3. To introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

  4. To provide information to travelers by means of catalogues, brochures, in-flight films, ticket-slips, home pages, etc.

  5. To provide information to local key persons at the destinations.

  6. To report annually.

As part of an educational awareness campaign, ASTA is developing pages on both its member Web site ( and its consumer site ( with information on what travel agents and travelers can do to help stop the exploitation of children in travel and tourism. Additionally, ASTA is developing materials that members can use in their businesses to share not only with employees but clients on how they each can play a role in preventing child sex tourism. ASTA will attend the United States launch of the Code of Conduct at the United Nations Children`s Fund conference in New York City on April 21, 2004.

The Society encourages its members to support government measures taken to counter the sexual exploitation of women and children, to inform colleagues of the negative consequences of sex tourism, and to advise clients of the penalties imposed on tourists who commit such acts.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.