Rethinking travel and tourism - SRSG Maalla M’jid presents annual report to the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 05 October 2023 – “ There has never been a more pivotal moment to ensure that the travel and tourism sector is truly sustainable, with child protection at its core!”

Children’s protection from violence in the context of travel and tourism was the focus of the annual report presented by Special Representative Maalla M’jid presented to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.
The report calls for the establishment of a renewed and relevant agenda for action that promotes sustainability, in a moment when travel and tourism sector is being rethought while recovering from the pandemic.

“It is time to rethink the way in which travel and tourism is conducted and to create a truly sustainable industry. Discussions on sustainability in the sector have rightly incorporated environmental, economic and social dimensions. There is a solid foundation on which to build. However, freedom from violence against children is also fundamental for sustainability “ highlighted SRSG Maalla M’jid.

The SRSG’s report stresses the urgency and scale of the task ahead to rebuild a sector which invests in  a cross-sectoral approach, as child protection goes beyond national tourism authorities and includes law enforcement, labour, justice, child and social protection sectors, among others.

Traveler numbers are now climbing as the industry recovers, with international tourism receipts rising again to reach the $1 trillion mark in 2022 and more than 960 million tourists travelling internationally in the same year, a figure that does not include the millions of trips made by people within their own countries for both leisure and business.
The more people travelling, the greater the likelihood that they will include offenders who inflict violence on children with impunity, as their mobility presents challenges for ensuring justice and accountability.

“Just as the number of tourists and travelers worldwide is increasing, and the forms of tourism and travel are evolving, children’s vulnerability to violence is increasing. Offenders, exploiters and traffickers take advantage of these vulnerabilities to perpetrate violence against children. There has never been a more pivotal moment to ensure that the travel and tourism sector is truly sustainable, with child protection at its core ”  concluded Dr. Maalla M’jid.

Alongside these serious concerns, the report recalls significant initiatives designed to overcome such pressing challenges and move towards the elimination of all forms of violence against children by 2030 within the travel and tourism sector.
Building on these initiatives and looking ahead to the Summit of the Future next year, the priority of the Special Representative remains to support efforts at all levels to accelerate progress towards reaching the violence-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, backed by strong leadership and accountability mechanisms, as well as by effective monitoring, including through supporting Member States in the preparation of voluntary national reviews.

Access the UNSRSG VAC report for UNGA 2023