Children's rights

Children may be deployed to carry out various forms of work in hotels, such as cleaning or kitchen help, mostly behind the scenes and out of sight of customers. Children often work in hotels and guesthouses to support their families’ businesses. Working in hotels or other kinds of tourist accommodation, children can be exposed to various hazards and risks, such as kitchen accidents, dealing with hazardous substances when cleaning rooms and physically demanding work, as well as a stressful working environment. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) differentiates between legitimate child work, which does not affect children’s health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, and unacceptable child labour, which deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, interferes with their schooling, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.

Children may be sexually exploited in hotel rooms. After an increased focus, stricter controls and new regulations by large hotel chains, as well as rising external pressure by civil society organisations and governments, commercial sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) is moving to smaller, more informal accommodation, like private guesthouses or rented apartments.

Migrant workers going abroad to gain an income and support their families often work in the hospitality industry. Lengthy and repeated absences of a parent can put great strains on families, as children grow up without much contact to one or both of their parents and have to take over parental roles and duties. Children without parents are also more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

As our world becomes smaller through increased travel and internet access, how can we help protect children in travel and tourism and end impunity of travelling sex offenders?

The hotel industry can have positive as well as negative impacts on children. Among the positive impacts are the creation of jobs for parents (particularly for women), the opening of career paths for young and unskilled workers, and the support of local communities by sourcing their goods and services.

Negative impacts of the hotel sector on children were found to be related to parents (inadequate) working conditions, child labour and sexual exploitation of children, and negative impacts of hotels on communities and the environment.

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Take action

Policy and process

  • Develop a company-specific policy statement containing the commitment to fight the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT).
  • Integrate clauses on SECTT in contracts with hotels.
  • Integrate clauses on young workers/child labour in contracts / Supplier Code of Conduct with accommodation providers.

Supplier assessment

  • Check the ages of young workers employed in the hotels and if they receive special protection through second and third party audits.

Training & capacity building

  • Conduct training with sales staff (internal) and with hotel suppliers on SECTT (see measures card on Training and capacity building to access issue-specific trainings).

Sector collaboration

  • Join The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism (The Code).

Grievance mechanisms

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.