Small-group adventure operator, G Adventures, has become the first global travel company to be ChildSafe Certified. The announcement came at World Travel Market last week in recognition of the work that G Adventures has undertaken and the demonstrable steps implemented with its non-profit partner, Planeterra, to ensure the safeguarding of children’s wellbeing across the business.
This comes after the June launch of a new set of child welfare guidelines (published by ChildSafe Movement, G Adventures and Planeterra) and will be followed by a new awareness-building consumer-facing campaign which will launch on November 20, UNICEF World Children’s Day. The guidelines are the latest in G Adventures’ ‘G for Good’ suite of initiatives, which are designed to help people travel better, and complement the guidelines for protecting wildlife, and Indigenous people and cultures.
The new child welfare campaign aims to open the eyes of travellers who are well-intentioned, but don’t realise that what they believe is helpful behaviour, such as visiting schools and taking selfies with children, can actually be harmful. It is accompanied by a shareable video which reinforces the message “if you wouldn’t do it here, don’t do it anywhere” with regards to interacting with children while travelling.
Jamie Sweeting, vice president of social enterprise and responsible travel at G Adventures, says the new guidelines are designed to encourage travel companies to do more, and to educate travellers, who often believe they are doing the right thing when interacting with children, to act responsibly.
“As a travel company we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can and these guidelines are helping us make appropriate changes internally. We’ve swept our digital assets and owned channels to ensure all our media complies, have removed all school classroom visits from our itineraries and have launched an internal training programme for all office and field staff,” says Sweeting.
As a leader in responsible travel, G Adventures is also encouraging other businesses in the travel industry to adopt its Child Welfare and the Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines. A wide range of contributors provided their expertise and insights including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who welcomed their introduction.
Beth Verhey, Senior Advisor, Children’s Rights and Business, UNICEF, says the guidelines provide an essential, practical resource for all tourism companies.
“Travel and tourism is globally one of the most significant sectors economically, and was highlighted in three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve the sustainability potential of the sector, a concerted effort by industry bodies and individual companies is needed to understand how children are affected - both positively and negatively - by their business operations and value chains,” says Verhey.
Founder and Executive Director of Friends-International, Sebastien Marot, says these guidelines are long overdue, and that as the travel industry has evolved to become more experiential, with more community-based tourism, there was a growing awareness of the need for, and the importance of, a framework to protect children.
“These guidelines provide that framework, and it’s my hope they will become the benchmark for ensuring effective child protection in the tourism industry, with travel companies, agents, travellers and tour guides all contributing to creating safe environments for children,” says Marot.
Companies keen to adopt the guidelines should visit this link. The G Adventures Child Welfare Guidelines can be downloaded here and are the latest in G Adventures’ ‘suite’ of responsible travel guidelines, joining Animal Welfare and Responsible Travel with Indigenous People, which were launched in 2015 and 2017 respectively.