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Tourism Ministry Takes New Step to Counter Trafficking in Persons

Source: Vientiane Times

The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism on Friday introduced information, education, and communication materials aimed at preventing human trafficking in the tourism industry.

The provision of these informative materials is part of the Laos Counter Trafficking in Persons Project – a five-year initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development.

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The launch ceremony was attended by the Head of Office of the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Mr. Bualay Phanouvong; USAID Country Representative to Laos, Mr. Michael Ronning; senior officials from the ministry and USAID; and more than 100 participants from the government, tourism sector stakeholders, and relevant implementing partners.

The Laos Counter Trafficking in Persons Project works to reduce the vulnerability to human trafficking among targeted populations in Laos by supporting vocational training and employment opportunities for these populations.

The information, education, and communication materials are intended to raise awareness among vulnerable groups and potential victims.
Posters, brochures, and banners will provide information on how to prevent child sex tourism, where to report suspected cases, and how to avoid becoming a victim, to a wide range of audiences, including tourism service providers.

Mr. Bualay expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the committee responsible for producing these materials. “We can accelerate counter-trafficking efforts and raise public awareness by adapting these materials, reaching out through social media, and establishing a variety of common access points,” he said.

Mr. Ronning commended the government’s initiative to prioritize the Counter Trafficking in Persons project, saying “Ending human trafficking is a priority for Laos and the United States.”

“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported the creation and completion of these materials, especially the Lao government’s production committee and the Lao project staff.”

“We have begun to see a substantial increase in the number of tourists. While this is a positive sign for Laos’ economic recovery, human traffickers may, unfortunately, view this as an opportunity to exploit more victims,” Mr. Ronning said.

As stated in the government’s third National Plan of Action on Anti-trafficking, actions to prevent trafficking in persons are a priority. With the reopening of borders after the Covid-19 pandemic, migration, and human trafficking patterns have changed, but Laos remains a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking.

More visitors and movement are anticipated with the introduction of more train services and China’s recent reopening. Therefore, the provision of informational materials on human trafficking, which has been specifically developed for the tourism sector, is a timely move.