Thai campaign appeals to tourists to help end trafficking

If you see something, say something. Thailand is appealing to the more than 30 million tourists who visit the Kingdom for help in ending the scourge of human trafficking through a series of public service videos produced in partnership with civil society groups and shown at airports and on Thai Airways flights, urging visitors to report any suspicions they have to authorities.

“This is a step in the right direction. The Thai government alone cannot solve the problem. We need the hotel groups, we need the tourists, we need everybody who can to join in,” Malina Enlund from the anti-trafficking group A21, told Reuters news agency.

A 21 is an Australia-based civil society organization that has partnered with the Thai government to produce the campaign. The group also trains hotel staff in the tourist resort of Pattaya on how to be more aware and spot the signs that someone is a victim of human trafficking.

Each video in the series focuses on different types of trafficking in persons, from the sex industry to children begging in streets. Their tagline is “Can You See Me?” They warn that trafficking is against the law and carries harsh penalties.

The current government has enacted new laws and regulations, acceded to international conventions, increased the budget for anti-trafficking efforts, worked with civil society groups and international agencies and arrested hundreds of traffickers and sentenced them to long prison terms. Among those arrested and charged have been 55 government officials accused of either direct involvement or complicity in trafficking in persons.

“Every effort is important. We are doing our best. Therefore we hope the situation in Thailand will be better, and it will be recognized by the international community,” said Weerachon Sukhontapatipak, a government spokesman.

Appealing for cooperation and raising awareness among tourists and the tourism sector is a strategy that is becoming more widely adopted by many countries.

The videos, which show viewers how to spot or recognize the signs of human trafficking, are also being shown in shopping malls, movie theaters, train stations and other venues where tourists as well as locals congregate. They have been shown on Thai Airways International routes since February.