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Private Sector Notable: Cape Town Tourism

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Washington, DC
August 4, 2008

Sex Tourism has always been a somewhat taboo subject, whispered about in the corridors of our ivory towers. One of the most sensitive issues that the tourism industry faces in the last years refers to the phenomenon of commercial sexual exploitation of children mainly in developing countries, by tourists coming often from developed countries.…Here you can order anything from an uncut diamond, fresh sushi and a 10 year old boy delivered to your door in less than 20 minutes. This is the ugly face of tourism.

--Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism

The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons recognizes Cape Town Tourism (CTT) for its progressive efforts to take a proactive stand against sex tourism and put into place measures that will protect women and children from sexual exploitation during the 2010 World Cup Soccer Games in South Africa. Cape Town Tourism is one of the largest voluntary tourism membership associations in the world with 2,300 tourism and related-service industry members from all over South Africa. Under the leadership of Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism is adopting and writing an ethical code of conduct, policies, and guidelines for its membership regarding how to counter commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. It is educating and training its staff on these policies as well as incorporating these principles as part of its membership criteria. CTT is also working to incorporate these principles into the Cape Town Tourism’s Safety Plan and Membership Safety Forum. To facilitate these initiatives, CTT is working with police, social authorities, and other relevant organizations. In addition, CTT plans to provide information to visitors through the official Cape Town Tourism visitor website, its network of 20 visitor information centers, and the distribution of visitor safety pamphlets. Cape Town Tourism is also trying to coordinate an awareness campaign in partnership with stakeholders through its local and international communication channels. The goal is to add these principles to the 2010 Games planning and visitor strategy. Finally, CTT is committing itself to regularly report its progress to its stakeholders and then to jointly monitor results.

These actions are notable because they address both the current problem of sex tourism and the future demand that will inevitably accompany one of the world’s largest sporting events. As Ms. Toit-Helmbold told members of Cape Town Tourism, media representatives, and participants at an awareness workshop last year, “It takes only one global event like a FIFA Soccer World Cup, a few thousand extra visitors and a vulnerable society to accelerate this rot and spin our destination out of control….Our message must be made very clear: Cape Town welcomes the world to our beautiful destination, but visitors who engage in sexual exploitation of women and children are not welcome.”


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