"We want travel agents across Canada to be more knowledgeable and better equipped, so that someday sex tourism involving children and teens is a thing of the past."
– Joseph Adamo, General Manager, Transat Distribution Canada
TORONTO, July 14, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Transat Distribution Canada (TDC), the country's largest travel agency network, is moving into high gear in the fight against child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, making public new guidelines to make travel agents across the country better equipped for prevention.
"For years now, we have been raising awareness among our employees, partners and customers, so that everybody understands that the sexual exploitation of children and teens is a crime. Today, we are going one step further, in the hope that all travel agents in Canada will join in the effort," says Joseph Adamo, General Manager, TDC.
Since 2010, Transat has partnered with Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada, a non-governmental organization that promotes the rights of children and is actively engaged in the fight against all forms of child exploitation. Transat was the first tour operator in Canada to offer child and teen sex tourism awareness training to its employees, and has spoken out against the issue in a broad effort to make all travellers aware that this is a crime.
"Of course, this is a very sensitive issue, and only a small number of travellers will eventually engage in this activity, but travel advisors across the country cannot remain passive," notes Susan Bowman, Vice-President, Marketing and Industry Relations, TDC. "So, today, we are sharing our guidelines with the entire community, to help agents deal with sensitive situations that occur from time to time," she adds. "Our message is clear: our 3,000 advisors, in our 540 agencies, are urged to refuse to sell a trip to anybody explicitly travelling to have sex with minors. But this will be useless if customers just cross the street and go to another agency. This is an appeal to the entire community of travel agents in Canada: let's do this together."
Child sex tourists: who are they?
There is a widely held myth that tourists who sexually exploit children and teens are exclusively pedophiles. In fact, so-called situational offenders are the most common type of sex tourist. They may be men or women, married or single, and from all socio-economic backgrounds. They most likely do not plan to exploit a minor before leaving the country on business or for a holiday, and would never dare engage in such acts at home. They take advantage of their stay in another country to have an "exotic" experience, perhaps under the impression that their actions are tolerated under local laws and customs, and believing that by paying money for sex, they will be financially "helping" the child and his or her family.
Transat believes there is reason to hope that the behaviour of situational offenders can be changed, if as many people as possible are made aware of this issue. To that end, for the past five years the company has supported the annual Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada Media Awards, which recognize journalists across the country for reporting on issues related to sexual exploitation of children and teens.
To consult the Q and A for travel agents, and to learn more about the issue of child sexual exploitation around the world, visit resp.transat.com, under Communities in our origin and destination countries.
About Transat Distribution Canada
Transat Distribution Canada is Canada's leading retail distributor of holiday travel, with more than 500 outlets. The network, which is associated with Transat A.T. Inc., includes the Club Voyages, Voyages en Liberté, Voyages Transat, Transat Travel, TravelPlus and Marlin Travel banners, as well as other affiliate members. Transat A.T. Inc. is an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries.
SOURCE Transat A.T. Inc.
Susan Bowman, Vice-President, Marketing and Industry Relations, Transat Distribution Canada, 416 620-8080, ext. 8500, Susan.Bowman@transat.com