For the fifth year, RIU Hotels & Resorts reaffirms its commitment and support to the ECPAT Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children and Adolescents Against Sexual Exploitation in Tourism and Travel.
Since 2012, the chain has been holding training workshops for its corporate staff in Spain and for its employees in its hotels around the world, having reached a total of 8,000 workers worldwide last year. By the end of 2017, the chain hopes to bring the total to 15,000 participants, which represents twice the average annual figure in recent years, and specialisation in ECPAT content for over half of its staff.
Another goal of RIU Hotels is to strengthen its relationship with ECPAT affiliates in certain countries. This is the case of the Dominican Republic, where MAIS-ECPAT, the local representative of the Code of Conduct, has supported the chain in this training effort, starting last month, with awareness-raising courses in RIU hotels in Puerto Plata in order to fight child prostitution in tourism.
In July of this year, the awareness-raising workshops were also extended to Portugal and Cape Verde through PREVERISK, a consultancy specialised in training and a partner of RIU Hotels for training in sustainability. This training will be repeated with them in coming months in other RIU destinations like Aruba, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, the Bahamas, Saint Martin, the USA, Mexico, and Germany. For Sri Lanka and Mauritius, the training will be provided this fall through local organisations.
In Spain, the partner chosen for staff training is the RANA Foundation, which works on prevention and eradication of child abuse. The training will begin in September, and a session will be held in all the RIU hotels in the Balearic Islands, CanaryIslands and Andalusia. The training content includes an informative video produced last year with other hotel chains which raises the awareness of the staff about the prevention of harassment of customers.
Likewise, the hotel chain is strengthening its partnerships with the leading authorities in the tourism sector and international organisations. This is the case of the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), which several weeks ago invited the RIU Corporate Social Responsibility department, under the leadership of its director, Catalina Alemany, to participate in a meeting of experts to discuss measures for combating sexual exploitation of children in the industry. Likewise, RIU Hotels is one of the leading members of "The Code", the first initiative created by the tourism industry aimed at defining the obligations of companies in the sector in relation to the problem of child sex tourism.
Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Tourism is a growing problem that requires the participation of all stakeholders. Every year, two million minors are forced to enter the commercial sexual exploitation market. Tourism, as a major global industry, has economic, cultural, environmental and socio-political effects in the contexts in which it operates, impacting the lives of children and adolescents in these communities.