In an effort to prevent children from being sexually exploited by tourists, World Vision, the Ministry of Tourism and the anti-human trafficking police launched a nationwide Child Safe Tourism campaign yesterday.
“Some foreigners come to visit Cambodia as tourists and pretend to love, pity and help the poor children [only to abuse them],” said Pol Phithey, director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking police, at a launch in the capital.
According to Phithey, 18 foreigners were sent to court in Cambodia during 2013 for sexually abusing children.
To target sexual exploitation, the launch’s hosts are aiming to raise awareness among “responsible” tourists it hopes will help protect children when they see a problem.
As part of the campaign, 120,000 stickers, 10,000 tent cards and 36 signboards with how to behave responsibly and support the fight against child abuse have been produced.
They will be distributed at key tourism locations.
Hor Sarun, under secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, and chairman of the Child Safe Tourism committee, said the government was pleased that the country had experienced a 17 per cent increase in tourists last year. But with an increase in visitors to the country came an increase in vulnerable people seeking income in tourist spots.
“As we know, children are our future human resources and should be protected from all forms of abuse,” he said.
While most tourists come to enjoy the rich cultural attractions that Cambodia has to offer, those who are interested in the sexual exploitation of children pose a major threat, he added.
World Vision Cambodia childhood project coordinator Phang Chanda said the campaign material included a hotline that tourists could call if they noticed a problem.