A major 2-day conference - Regional Consultation for Asia and the Pacific on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation was opened in Bali on Thursday, June 26, 2003.
Sponsored by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) in collaboration with Indonesia's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the conference, held at the Bali Inter-Continental Resort was formally opened by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika; the Deputy Secretary-General of the WTO, Dr. David de Villiers; and the European Communities Ambassador to Indonesia, Sabato della Monica.
The Conference saw leading international and national experts discuss issues related to tourism and the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 16.
In an opening address by Mr. Ron O'Grady, the founder of End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) pointed to the rapid growth of the tourism industry in Asia in the late 20th century as part of tourism's burgeoning role as the world largest industries and employers. According to O'Grady, more than 1 million children in Asia under the age of 16 are currently being sexually exploited for profit.
Indonesia's Minister for Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika, speaking at the Conference said that his country's official policy is to promote only "cultural tourism" and to oppose "sexual tourism" in any form. As a result, Indonesia was eager to work with concerned individuals and agencies to control the sexual exploitation of children. In separate comments, David de Villiers of the WTO pointed to Indonesia as one of the leading countries in working in the campaign to prevent child prostitution.
The Conference featured more than 20 speakers discussing the role of governments, NGO's, and the private sector in ending the sexual exploitation of children in tourism.
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