Over a decade ago the Goa Children’s Act, 2003 was passed to safeguard the rights of all the children residing in Goa. This Act is a unique law that looks at children holistically. The Act has specific provisions about tourism-related child sexual abuse. It prohibits adults from keeping unrelated children with them and entrusts hotels with the responsibility of ensuring that no child is abused in the hotel premises. As per section 8 (22) of the Goa Children’s Act the Tourism Department shall evolve a Child Friendly Tourism Code for the State of Goa to ensure that all children are protected at tourist destinations.
Tourism is the mainstay of Goa economy. A large number of foreign and Indian tourists visit Goa every year. The Department is concerned about ensuring that tourism is conducted responsibly and that children are not adversely affected by tourism. The frequent reports about children being used for beggary, child labor and commercial sexual exploitation raise concerns about the affected children while adversely affecting the reputation of tourism. The Department would also like to ensure the protection of children of tourists.
To ensure that children are protected at all times in the tourism industry, the Child-Friendly Tourism Code (CFTC) was officially launched last week by Children’s Rights in Goa (CRG) in collaboration with the Tourism Department. The code was drafted by CRG and adopted by the Tourism Department in 2020. The code shall apply to the Tourism Department and all stakeholders in the tourism industry. It would be mandatory for all to sign the CFTC and obey the guidelines.
Staff in the industry and all other stakeholders related to the tourism industry will be provided information on different laws, child protection, and child-friendly procedures to be used while dealing with children.
In addition to this, the code includes measures to prevent prostitution, sex tourism, child beggary, child labour and all forms of sexual exploitation to safeguard the safety of children.
As per the code, messages have to be displayed on the board by the tourism department at tourist locations on keeping children safe, information should be provided to travellers through positive messages in their brochures.