Tourism officials decry sexual exploitation of minors

November 27, 2009

Costa Rica´s two chief tourism boards are increasing efforts to deter the sexual exploitation of minors, tourism officials said Wednesday.

The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) announced that members of the tourism sector have signed a Code of Conduct that ensures that hotels, tour operators, rent-a-cars and taxi services will monitor tourists and report potential sexual exploitation of minors and adolescents.

“The agreement to fight against the business of the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents will ensure that the implementation of the Code of Conduct extends beyond the companies that make up the tourism industry,” said Juan Carlos Ramos, the president of CANATUR. “It is something that is relevant to the entire nation.”

Currently, 202 tourist companies have signed the Code of Conduct and more than 6,000 workers in the tourism sector have been versed on the increased efforts to keep an eye out for perceived exploitation of minors.

A Directive Council will be created to provide continual monitoring of the fight against sexual exploitation. The council will include representatives from CANATUR, ICT, the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals, the Costa Rican Hotel Association, the Tour Operators Association and the Car Rental Association.

The council will also push to increase the minimum penalty for the soliciting or exploiting minors for financial purposes to 50 years in prison. According to the law against the commercial sexual exploitation of minors, which was passed in 1999, it is the obligation of the state and all of its citizens to guarantee the protection of the rights of boys, girls and adolescents.

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