A new report from the Child Rights Center Albania (CRCA) has warned that authorities in the tourism sector and child protection system lack information over the connection between child sexual exploitation and the tourism industry.
The report represents the first time such research has been conducted in Albania regarding child sexual exploitation in the tousim industry.
Tourism is a major contributor to the Albanian economy. More than 5.6 million foreign visitors entered Albania in 2021, most of them from countries within the European Union.
As the report from the CRCA warns, however, rates of poverty and extreme poverty are putting increasing numbers of children at risk of child sexual exploitation by visitors to the country.
“The development of travel and tourism sector in Albania and the increase of both local and foreign tourists has amplified the risks of sexual exploitation of children in the tourism,” reads the report.
“In recent years, Albania has recorded an increase in sexual crimes against children, including the sexual exploitation of children in prostitution, while trafficking for the purposes of economic and sexual exploitation continues to affect a high number of children,” it continues.
At the same time, the CRCA found that no Albanian company in the travel and tourism industry has signed the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. Worse still, the sector itself has made little to no effort to combat child sexual exploitation, and provides no information on the protection of children.
According to Altin Hazizaj, Chief Executive Officer of CRCA, Albanian authorities must use these findings as an impetus to implement new standards in the travel industry.
“The main recommendations of the study focus on the development of new laws, policies and programs by the travel and tourism industry and the child protection system, aiming to put the protection of children from sexual exploitation at the center of all the initiatives, while law enforcement agencies and tourism operators should increase the level of information and training of staff on this issue, including the membership of hotels in the Code,” he said.
The report also put forward the need to refer to child sexual exploitation by its proper terminology. In this context, it is referred to as “sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism” (SECTT). This is opposed to the common colloquialism, “child sex tourism.”
“SECTT is not another form of tourism, it is a crime – and should be named as such. Offenders who abuse and exploit children are not ‘sex tourists’ – they are criminals,” the report reads.
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