Palma de Mallorca. World Tourism Day is being celebrated today in Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, focusing this year on “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Drivers of Sustainable Development”. The event is organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to promote awareness in the international community about the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic relevance. Lat week the event included a round table debate on Tourism and Social Responsibility, including participation by Lourdes Ripoll, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Sustainability at Meliá Hotels International.
The round table debate centred on the fight against tourism-related child sexual exploitation, of special interest to Meliá as it was the first company in Spain to sign the ECPAT Code against the Sexual Exploitation of Children in 2006, and has since led the addition of another eleven leading companies in the industry.
Another milestone in the Meliá commitment to and involvement in campaigns to help children was the signature in 2010 of the ongoing strategic alliance with UNICEF to protect children and prevent child exploitation. The alliance was presented by Ripoll as a “best practice” in the round table debate introduced by the Secretary General of the WTO, Taleb Rifai, and chaired by the President of UNICEF Spain, amongst other participants.
According to the Meliá executive, the Alliance has been very successful both in terms of economic cooperation and also in terms of the significant involvement of employees and customers, the commitment of senior company management, and the internalization of values shared by both UNICEF and Meliá.
The presentation made by Lourdes Ripoll highlighted the importance of the hotel industry getting involved in and leading the fight for child protection. Ripoll justified the importance of leadership in that: “hotels are an important driver of social and economic development, but they also have an ability to influence and engage multiple stakeholders and maximize awareness and the impact of this type of initiatives”.