This week’s Responsible Tourism interview is probably the most important one we have done. It is with the amazing charity Friends International. Their work is changing the lives of children and youth in South East Asia and the world.
One of their campaigns is all about children’s safety and how travellers can play an important role in helping them achieve this and raising awareness for future travellers. Did you know there is a thing called Orphanage Tourism? It’s a controversial term for a reason, it grabs people’s attention. However, it really is happening.
What is orphanage tourism?
When traveling in Cambodia, it has become the norm for tourists to be approached by children, requesting that they make a visit to their orphanage before leaving town. Generally, a visit would include a short performance or dance routine by the children, accompanied with a request for a small donation to assist with orphanage running costs. An entire industry has grown out of thousands of tourist visits. It is known as orphanage tourism.
Why end orphanage tourism?
A recent report into Cambodian residential institutions (orphanages) has revealed that tourist visits, despite tourists’ best intentions, cause more harm than good. The report shows that orphanage tourism, often conducted by unscrupulous business operators, does more to harm, rather than help child protection, rights and education standards. Further, it is shown that this industry contributes to the separation of Cambodian families as most “orphans” in Cambodia actually have at least one parent.
So as you can see, Friends International are doing amazing work. Please visit their website and social media channels to help them spread the word.
Congratulation on being nominated for the World Responsible Tourism Awards. What was your reaction when you found out?
We were absolutely delighted, not simply for the recognition of our child protection work, but also as this is another opportunity to raise the importance of ensuring that the travel and tourism industries, and indeed tourists, are not involved in exploiting or harming children.
What inspired you to start your charity?
Do you know of a responsible tourism business or charity that deserves be highlighted on our 5 minute series? Let us know by sending an e-mail to [email protected]
* All photos by Friends International