The Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra yesterday became Cambodia’s first hotel to sign a formal code of conduct to protect children from sexual exploitation by tourists.
The code, propagated by international child protection network End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking (ECPAT), commits the hotel to train its employees in detecting and reporting exploitation of children, offer information about exploitation to travellers and key institutions and provide annual reports.
“Each and every Sofitel employee needs to acknowledge a situation of child abuse wherever it may occur and take action upon it,” said Charles-Henri Chevet, the hotel’s general manager.
The Sofitel’s decision should encourage other businesses in the tourism industry to sign the code, said Chin Chanveasna, executive director of ECPAT Cambodia.
By 2015, said Chanveasna, Cambodia expects to get four to five million visitors a year, and that number could reach seven million in 2020.
As tourism grows, however, the chance for exploitation of children could rise as well, he warned.
Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, and Seila Samleang, country director for Action Pour Les Enfants, agreed, though Samleang noted that the main sites of child sexual exploitation were cheap guesthouses and not expensive hotels like the Sofitel.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]
With assistance from Justine Drennan