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Turistički Svet: Belgrade hotel in the fight for safer tourism
On World Tourism Day, Friday, September 27, 2019, a press conference was held at 3 pm in the Conference Room of the Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel on the occasion of signing a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel and Citizens' Association Atina. The formalization of cooperation between these two parties marked the beginning of joint work to create safer tourism and actively fight against sexual exploitation in tourism in Serbia.
Accor, ECPAT and WATCH PROGRAM
The Accor Group, which Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel belongs to since 2017, represents the first hotel chain to formally partner with ECPAT (End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) in 2003, and has been actively fighting against this criminal side effect of the tourism sector ever since. Within its organization, Accor has designed the WATCH Project (We Act Together for Children) with an intention to implement it in all hotels operating under the auspices of the group by 2020. This project is based on close cooperation between hotels, state institutions and civil society organizations, and on their joint efforts in the fight for safer tourism. Hotel staff are trained to identify potentially problematic situations and, through cooperation with state institutions and civil society organizations, act appropriately to ensure the safety of all their guests.
The aim of the WATCH program, and corelated protection of minors from sexual exploitation, is to reduce legal and operational risks as well as reputational risks to the company, but according to the ACCOR Group, it is primarily a moral obligation of all tourism actors. Moreover, this is not only a principle point of view, but also an integral part of the Accor Group's Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Charter, which has been endorsed by the highest level of management - as said in a statement by the Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel.
Knowing that even the smallest change requires great efforts in detecting and preventing all those inappropriate and unwanted situations that can lead to sexual exploitation of minors in tourism in Serbia, Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel steps in with a strong partner - Citizens’ Association “Atina”, a women's organization founded in 2003 in Belgrade whose aim is to combat human trafficking and all forms of gender-based violence.
Partnership with NGO Atina
With its goal to improve the fight against human trafficking and all forms of gender-based violence, as well as the protection and position of victims, and to strengthen gender equality, Atina implements long-term and comprehensive programs for social inclusion of victims of human trafficking, with an active involvement of state institutions and full participation of beneficiaries themselves in the programs’ creation and implementation.
In this regard, Atina conducts a series of activities (safe accommodation for victims of human trafficking, Reintegration Center that helps victims fully recover, Field Support Teams operating in multiple local communities, and an economic empowerment program for women victims of human trafficking that is currently implemented in Atina’s social enterprise Bagel Bejgl) and thus provides support to more than 150 primary and secondary victims of human trafficking and persons at-risk.
With a clear goal in mind - to eradicate the belief that human trafficking and exploitation of minors in tourism occur exclusively in remote countries, and that such situations do not exist in Serbia - Atina and Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel have entered into cooperation involving training and workshops in various fields, to strengthen the capacities of the Hotel and all employees to act preventively within their work responsibilities and timely identify potential situations of sexual exploitation of minors, and of human trafficking in general.
On the other hand, one of the important joint tasks facing Atina and Mercure Belgrade Excelsior Hotel is to raise broader social awareness of this issue, so that a higher number of people join the action and contribute to its effective resolution. In this regard, the partners will pay equal attention to this task within the formalized cooperation.
The original text can be found via the following link: https://www.turistickisvet.com/vesti/hotelijerstvo/beogradski-hotel-u-borbi-za-bezbedniji-turizam.html