it s not child s play l.
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It’s not child’s play. Forms of child labour in tourism. Meet Rajiv. 12 year old porter in Nepal carries 25kg on a trekking tour paid 150 rupees daily (adult wage 250) legal working age in Nepal: 14 years no time to attend school thrilled to find an opportunity to help support his family.

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it s not child s play

It’s not child’s play

Forms of child labour in tourism

meet rajiv
Meet Rajiv...
  • 12 year old porter in Nepal
  • carries 25kg on a trekking tour
  • paid 150 rupees daily (adult wage 250)
  • legal working age in Nepal: 14 years
  • no time to attend school
  • thrilled to find an opportunity to help support his family
meet leandro
Meet Leandro….
  • Filipino, 17 years old, waiter and bodyguard
  • Left school to look for a job
  • Unemployed parents, eight siblings
  • Works from 6:00 pm to 3:00 am
what do children do in the tourist industry
what do children do in the tourist industry?
  • Accommodation
  • Catering / food and beverage
  • Excursions, recreational activities, entertainment industry
  • Tours and transport
  • Producing souvenirs
  • Selling souvenirs
  • Workplaces:

hotels, holiday resorts, boarding houses, guesthouses, lodges, bed&breakfast places, rooms in private homes; laundries and cleaning firms

  • Occupations:

receptionist, baggage attendants, bell-boys, lift-boys, domestic servants, porters, garden hands, cleaners, helpers in laundry and ironing, etc

catering food and beverage
Catering / food and beverage
  • Workplaces:

restaurants, cafes, teashops, snack bars, beer gardens, pubs, bars, beach shacks, street stands, itinerant food vending stalls

  • Occupations:

kitchen and scullery helpers,

Dishwashers, water-carriers, cleaners, waitresses and waiters, delivery boys, vendors of fruit, snacks and ice-creams

excursions recreational activities entertainment industry
Excursions, recreational activities, entertainment industry
  • Workplace:

excursion sites, tourist sight-seeing spots, sport and beach activities, fitness centres, animal shows, circuses, folklore performances, casinos, night clubs with go-go-dancing, massage salons, brothels

  • Occupation:

tour guides, ticket & postcard vendors, flower-girls, photo “models“, shoeshine boys, beggars, beach cleaners, snake and crocodile exhibitors, acrobats, divers for pennies, golf caddies...

tour operating and transport
Tour operating and transport
  • Workplaces:

travel agencies, airports, train stations, bus and taxi firms, excursion and transfer boats

  • Occupations:

small handling agents, errand-boys, baggage attendants, bus attendants, car washers and guards, ship-boys, deck-hands, porters, etc

souvenir production
Souvenir production
  • Workplaces:

Wood carving and plastic processing, textile industry, sewing shops, straw and palm leaf manufacturing, shell, coral and mother-of-pearl processing, carpet-weaving, tanning, leather production, gem industry, precious stones mining, etc

  • Occupations:

manufacturers of all kinds, shell and pearl divers

selling of souvenirs
Selling of souvenirs
  • Workplaces:

shops, hotel boutiques, stands, itinerant sales activities on streets and beaches

  • Occupations:

souvenir vendors of all kinds

children working in tourist areas
children working in tourist areas
  • are mostly behind the scenes. Invisible.
  • but, 13-19 million young people are estimated to work in tourism (10-15%) ILO 1995
  • most people don’t see them as “child labour” but many are WFCL
  • how many?

…we don’t know!

child labour is
Child labour is….
  • little children (below 12) doing any kind of work other than light chores;
  • children doing a regular job below the legal working age (usually 15);
  • young people who are in prostitution, drug trade, trafficked or forced to work (UnWFCL).
  • young people (under 18) who are doing work that will hurt them physically, psychologically, or morally (WFCL)

In 2004: 218 million child labourers worldwide!


Children age 5-14 years…..

186 million children labour

14% of all children

74.4 million

6.2% of all children

are in hazardous work


Youth ages 15-17….

51.9 million youth

are in hazardouswork

push pull factors for children
Push-pull factors for children


  • no interest in attending school
  • Poor schools, short day
  • no sense of future
  • pull
  • excitement of working in the tourist sector
  • possibility of meeting a benefactor
  • money in the pocket
push pull factors on employers

competition is high, have to lower costs to stay in business

cute children may attract customers


quick to learn,

show up for work,


little risk – few controls are done

Push-pull factors on employers
effective action at many levels
Effective action at many levels


  • International conventions (C182, CRC)
  • WTO guidelines and global code of ethics
  • wise international lending by World Bank and IMF
  • Tourist industry codes of conduct


  • ratification of the international conventions
  • laws and their enforcement
  • compulsory free education
  • information to the tourists (Nigerian posters)


  • NGO / local projects e.g.: self help groups
  • Awareness raising, lobbying
  • Unionization of workers


  • Community monitoring of its children
  • Networking, cooperation among NGO‘s
  • Local studies to understand the local issue and build consensus
action to eliminate child labour in tourism in cape coast elmina ghana
Action to eliminate child labour in tourism in Cape Coast & Elmina, Ghana

Forms of child labour:

- tourist guides

- sale and production of art and craft

- entertainment of tourists (e.g. tribal dancers)

- sexual exploitation

what ghana has tried
What Ghana has tried …
  • programmes on local radio and TV to educate public that children working in tourism can be at risk
  • Assist ministry of tourism draft regulations and policies on child labour in the industry; then lobby the local government assembly to promulgate appropriate bylaws and adopt policies of prevention
  • Recruit and train a special task force to provide guidance and counselling services to the children
  • Set up guidance and counselling centres to provide services to children and get them into schools
  • Select and train families of ex-child workers in various skills; grant them loans to set up a business
  • Support the services through contributions from tourist-related businesses
  • Indian law
  • child work in/for tourists seems innocuous …should it be banned or monitored?
  • to what extent does the work children do to “help out” after school in a tourist area lead to UnWFCL?
  • who should be held accountable: the parent, the child, or the client? Are children in court to be considered as victims or criminals?
  • Is it feasible to try to take children out of tourism support work—are there too many? too scattered? no alternatives for them? where will the money come from? How to prevent them from going back to work?