Assessments, impact areas

An adolescent boy holding a stick of bags of cotton candy
© UNICEF/UNI9704/Versiani









Building on the Children's Rights and Business Principles and UNICEF's policy guidance and tools for business, salient impact areas particularly relevant to travel and tourism include:​

Child labour in value chains: According to the International Labour Organization, there are 13-19 million children working in an occupation tied to tourism, from value chain linkages in construction, contracted services and food sourcing, to selling goods on beaches, carrying luggage or working as waiters in local restaurants.

Decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers: Women make up the majority of the tourism workforce yet tend to be concentrated in the lowest paid, lowest status jobs with inadequate maternity protections or support for breastfeeding. Children whose parents work long and irregular hours, and cannot access or afford child care, may have to look after themselves and/or their siblings, leaving them extremely vulnerable to injury, neglect and abuse.

Protecting children in tourism activities and facilities: Children are vulnerable to sexual exploitation as individuals use the industry's infrastructure and services to facilitate or commit these crimes. Another impact area relates to the growing trend of tourism activities featuring visits to local schools and orphanages, or businesses arranging volunteer opportunities. In some cases, children are deliberately separated from their families and placed in orphanages so they can be used as attract fee-paying volunteers and donors.

Environmental degradation and land acquisition: tourism development requires significant land use and acquisition, wherein affected families may lose homes and livelihoods and other impacts due to resettlement processes. Tourism development, including infrastructure, traffic and insufficient water and sanitation systems, impacts the environment and basic services at the destination, and consequently the health and well-being of local families and their children.​​

Children and the hotel industry in Mexico (UNICEF, 2017) spotlights the immense potential of the hotel industry to positively affect children’s rights. Key findings and areas of recommendations include: the need to support maternity and parental leave; shift arrangements to support breastfeeding and child care; improving efforts on child labour in supply chains and to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation; enhancing opportunities for youth employment; and; addressing impacts that stress public services and the environment. The Children and the hotel industry in Mexico report results from a special research collaboration by UNICEF Mexico and the UK Committee for UNICEF; featuring extensive qualitative research with tourism stakeholders, parents working in the industry and children. The study is available in English and Spanish.

Furthermore, Senior Adviser, Beth Verhey, published an article on Tourism Watch outlining a range of impacts of the tourism sector on children's rights (UNICEF, 2016). 

Assessing the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Childr​en from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism: Discussion Paper (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2012): This assessment, commissioned by UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) and the UNICEF Child Protection Section, Programme Division, New York, was designed to assess the current performance of The Code, and to propose a set of criteria based on rights-based principles for measuring the impact and effectiveness of The Code at global and country levels.2 The assessment report provides a summary of the results of a literature review, three country case studies, an examination of strengths, weaknesses, gaps and lessons and a review of The Code criteria. It concludes with a series of recommendations.​

Other leading assessments elaborating such impact areas include:

The Kuoni Group, as a leading service provider to the travel industry, has been at the forefront in undertaking destination impact assessments in both Ke​nya (2012) and India (2014) with key recommendations and knowledge being generated from such reports. Kuoni has also produced a list of human rights action points for India (2015). 

The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business​ (MCRB) was set up in 2013 by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) aiming to encourage responsible business practices throughout Myanmar. One of their focus areas has been the Myanmar Tourism Sector Wide Impact Assessment (2015).