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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
Cameroon tackles sex tourism
Cameroon is concerned that children are used in sex tourism
Cameroon has decided to tackle sex tourism, which the authorities say is threatening to undermine the country's campaign against the spread of HIV/Aids.

The director of tourism promotion, Elise Bomba, told the BBC that the issue would dominate a three-day tourism conference in Limbe which started on Tuesday.

Mrs Bomba said that the delegates, including hotel managers, travel agencies and representatives from the general public, were discussing ways of raising awareness of the dangers of encouraging sex tourism.

"We want to educate tourists not to engage in sexual activities with Cameroonians, especially underage girls," Mrs Bomba said.

Cameroon is often referred to as "Africa in miniature", offering a range of attractions, such as mountains, volcanic highlands, coastal plains, jungle rivers, rain forest and savannah.

But it has now become a magnet for sex tourists, she said.

'Tourist influx'

Last month the BBC discovered an international child-trafficking ring based in Cameroon with links to Britain.

Many of the children are taken via Bafoussam

Most of the children were traced to a northwest Cameroonian town of Bafoussam where Aids-free girls were sold as brides by a tribal chief only later to find themselves working in brothels in the UK.

Mrs Bomba said that the while the government wants to promote Cameroon as a tourism destination, it is concerned about what she called "organised tourism which involves sending girls abroad for sex purposes".

"We do not want to promote Cameroon as a sex destination and since such tourism can accelerate the spread of HIV/Aids, our main priority will be to discourage it, and we hope that the conference will come out with strategies to tackle this problem."

Cameroon is a member of the Universal Federation of Travels Agents Associations (UFTAA) which pledges to combat the prostitution of children related to sex tourism and to protect the child victims of such tourists.

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