World Responsible Tourism Awards – Winners Interview Series

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James Sutherland Childsafe Campaign

Exclusive Interview: James Sutherland, Friends International

Founded in 2004, the World Responsible Tourism Awards allow people the chance to celebrate the heroes and share the stories of the most exciting and enduring responsible tourism experiences in the world.

The Childsafe Movement, powered by Friends International just won the Gold Award for “Best responsible tourism campaign”.

The Best responsible tourism campaign category is for a campaign from a tourism business or organisation which has successfully championed responsible tourism. This could be a marketing campaign or an advocacy campaign. The judges wanted an inspirational, innovative campaign which has had proven, measurable success in changing attitudes to travel and encouraging responsible tourism.

Powered by award-winning social enterprise Friends-International, the ChildSafe Movement provides a holistic and impactful approach that ensures an integrated response in protection of children in the tourism industry and beyond. With over 10 years’ experience in safeguarding children and youth from all forms of abuse, they have developed numerous effective tools to raise awareness of, and provide solutions to, child protection issues amongst key tourism industry stakeholders as well as within all tiers of society and the international community. These are tailored to specific needs within the industry, such as informing travelers and covering all levels of the supply chain, right down to tour guides in the field.

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    We interviewed James Sutherland, International Communications Coordinator of Friends International to tell us more about the Childsafe Campaign and Friends International.

    The Friends-International ChildSafe campaign recently won a World Responsible Tourism Award. In 140 characters (a tweet) or less – why do you think you won such an important award?

    Because ChildSafe actively enables all in the Tourism industry to create & foster child protective environments.

    What was the driver for creating the ChildSafe campaign specifically – what gap does it fill?

    The CS campaigns raise awareness of very important issues among travelers – the risks that children face, and for many who travel that is a significant knowledge gap. They want to do well, but sometimes their actions are potentially harmful to children – we can educate them to be responsible tourists (or agencies) as we all have a shared duty to protect children.

    Who is the ChildSafe campaign primarily for?

    It’s for all stakeholders, with specific tools aimed at specific areas – 7 Tips and associated campaigns (begging children, orphanage tourism, voluntourism etc) for the travellers, certification for best practice businesses promoting ChildSafe environments for children and communities. In summary, it’s good for individuals, good for businesses, and (most importantly) good for children.

    What difference does Friends-International want to make?

    We want to ensure that all children are protected from risks and can thrive in their communities in a ChildSafe environment, plus ensure that all in the tourism industry (clients and businesses) are supportive and active in ensuring that this can happen.

    What are the barriers to making that difference?

    Knowledge gaps in individuals and in businesses and the sheer size and diversity of the sector (language/cultural barriers and preconceptions to overcome)

    Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?

    We are making greater inroads and bringing many more partners, supporters, certified businesses on board, and of course our materials and resources have been tailored to be impactful & easily shared  by individuals and the sector – people are so important here, the campaigns have received huge support through social media for example

    Is the tourism sector doing enough to deliver a sustainable travel and tourism?

    We are seeing a much greater commitment from the sector over the past few years, which is very heartening. Responsible and sustainable travel and tourism is no longer seen as ‘outside’ – it’s growing as a core pillar of the sector, and increasing numbers of key players in the sector are coming forward seeking to be certified ‘ChildSafe’.

    How can people find out more about the ChildSafe campaign and Friends-International?

    Please seek out our resources and share them, visit the websites thinkchildsafe.org and friends-international.org where you will find the 7 Tips for travelers and much, much more. Go to our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter and share our posts, and Join the Movement to protect the children of the world!

    Often people say, ‘what can I do then – if I should not give money to begging children, or visit orphanages, what can I do to give real help when I am traveling?’

    Well, the 7 Tips gives you that practical advice, on how to find things to do that support children and families without causing potential risks, such as eating in training restaurants, staying in ChildSafe certified hotels, buying souvenirs from community initiatives or social businesses which support disadvantaged communities, even giving blood! All ways that we all can travel good and do good, helping to create and nurture a ChildSafe world!