The Laos Anti Trafficking in Persons Project, a five-year USAID-funded program, has been developed to provide information, education, and communication tools to help prevent human trafficking in the tourism industry.
The project launch was attended last week 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.
This initiative was aimed at reducing the vulnerability of targeted populations in Laos, by providing them with vocational training and employment opportunities.
“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,” said Mr. Bualay.
Mr. Ronning first congratulated all related members on the production of the materials, especially the Lao government’s production committee and the Lao project staff, reported Vientiane Times.
He then continued by saying that, although Laos is seeing an increase in the number of tourists, unfortunately, human traffickers may see this as an opportunity to exploit more victims.
In its third National Plan of Action on Anti-trafficking, the government of Laos acknowledged that although the reopening of borders after the Covid-19 pandemic, might have altered human trafficking patterns, but the country is still used as a source, transit, and destination for human trafficking.
Hence, with well over a million international visitors expected in 2023 after China’s recent border reopening, it was a timely effort to have information in place specifically for the tourism industry to tackle human trafficking in the country.