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Front. Sustain. Tour., 30 January 2024
Sec. Social Impact of Tourism
This article is part of the Research Topic Children in Tourism View all 7 articles

Editorial: Children in tourism

  • 1School of Hospitality and Tourism, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2Griffith Institute for Tourism, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia

Editorial on the Research Topic
Children in tourism

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as ‘every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child'. Of the world's population, nearly a third (31%) are aged under 18, of whom the vast majority (87%) inhabit regions of the world that are commonly described as the Global South—the lower- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America ( Children thus represent a significant proportion of the world's population, not only growing up in the communities affected by tourism but also influencing and participating in holidays with their families and beyond. Traditionally, research has mainly focused on family tourism with data generated from parents/adults. However, in recent years, there has been increasing attention on the tourist experiences of children inclusive of their voices and acknowledging their roles as social agents within their families (e.g., Gram et al., 2019; Pomfret, 2021). A shift away from Western-centric discourses in the last decade has resulted in increasing family tourism research in Asia (e.g., Li et al., 2023). Yet, much of the children and family tourism research globally focuses on the wellbeing and benefits of traveling for children to the detriment of more problematic issues.

Children are important stakeholders and residents of tourism destinations, yet there is a dearth of research on host children. Although it is estimated that 19 million children are engaged in the tourism industry, our knowledge of child labor issues is limited (Yang et al., 2020) as is the role of children in family entrepreneurship (Canosa and Schänzel, 2021). Only recently has there been tourism research on and with children living and growing up in host communities in the Global North (e.g., Canosa et al., 2016; Koščak et al., 2023). The paucity of research in this area is surprising given the growing prominence of human rights issues especially in the Global South where children growing up in tourism destinations are often engaged in exploitative activities, such as orphanage tourism.

Whether as “tourists” or “hosts” of tourism destinations, children play important roles in the tourism sector and their inputs are vital to achieving sustainable tourism developments. There is considerable scope to actively involve children in participatory research and planning exercises to create change that can improve their lives as members of host communities and as social agents engaged in more just forms of tourism. For these reasons, it is highly relevant that this topic collection encompasses five articles, four on host children and one on problematic issues affecting tourist children. It is even more encouraging that three of the studies were conducted with children based in the Global South: Cook Islands, Indonesia, and China, thus making a considerable contribution to knowledge.

The first article in this collection by ZentveldOh, the places you'll go!”—But not for those children trapped by family violence highlights the dark side of family tourism. With most research focused on the benefits of family holidays, this article is the first to shed light on how child custody and family law issues can affect tourism experiences for children who live with or have lived with family violence. The next is a review article by van Doore and Nhep on Orphanage tourism and orphanage volunteering: implications for children based in the Global South. It critically analyses the implications of orphanage tourism for children including impacts on child agency, child rights, child development, child protection, and child trafficking and exploitation. The third article by de Waegh et al. is on the use of Online photovoice to engage indigenous Cook Islands youth in the exploration of social and ecological wellbeing amidst a global disruption. Photovoice is a participatory action research method that involves participants as collaborators, in this case, indigenous youth in the small island community of Rarotonga, Cook Islands. The fourth article by Kwong is on Engaging children's voices for tourism and marine futures through drawing in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. It promotes inter-generational justice through participatory processes of children to achieve sustainable futures. The fifth article by Ju et al., is on Moving Beyond Western Methods: A Methodological Toolbox for Family Entrepreneurship Research in Tourism by Including Children's Voices. It discusses how methods were adopted to ensure child-inclusive research processes by conducting LEGO® Serious Play® workshops at Old Dad Teahouses (or Lao Ba Cha 老爸茶 in Chinese) to create a child-friendly environment in Hainan, China. All articles published in this Research Topic embraced a child-inclusive approach to tourism as part of a broader social justice agenda which is critical in tourism to privileging children's rights, participation, and wellbeing.

Author contributions

HS: Writing—original draft, Writing—review & editing. EY: Writing—original draft, Writing—review & editing.


The author(s) declare that no financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


We would like to thank the authors for contributing their valuable work and the reviewers for their constructive feedback which resulted in five important articles making up this Research Topic.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

The author(s) declared that they were an editorial board member of Frontiers, at the time of submission. This had no impact on the peer review process and the final decision.

Publisher's note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


Canosa, A., Moyle, B. D., and Wray, M. (2016). Can anybody hear me? A critical analysis of young residents' voices in tourism studies. Tour. Analy. 21, 325–337. doi: 10.3727/108354216X14559233985097

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Canosa, A., and Schänzel, H. (2021). The role of children in tourism and hospitality family entrepreneurship. Sustainability 13:12801. doi: 10.3390/su132212801

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Gram, M., O'Donohoe, S., Schänzel, H., Marchant, C., and Kastarinen, A. (2019). Fun time, finite time: temporal and emotional dimensions of grandtravel experiences. Ann. Tour. Res. 79:102769. doi: 10.1016/j.annals.2019.102769

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Koščak, M., KneŽević, M., Binder, D., Pelaez-Verdet, A., Işik, C., Mićić, V., et al. (2023). Exploring the neglected voices of children in sustainable tourism development: a comparative study in six European tourist destinations. J. Sustain. Tour. 31, 561–580. doi: 10.1080/09669582.2021.1898623

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Pomfret, G. (2021). Family adventure tourism: towards hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing. Tour. Manag. Perspect. 39:100852. doi: 10.1016/j.tmp.2021.100852

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Yang, M. J. H., Yang, E. C. L., and Khoo-Lattimore, C. (2020). Host-children of tourism destinations: systematic quantitative literature review. Tour. Recr. Res. 45, 231–246. doi: 10.1080/02508281.2019.1662213

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Keywords: children, tourism, children's rights, wellbeing, social impact, Global South, qualitative research

Citation: Schänzel H and Yang ECL (2024) Editorial: Children in tourism. Front. Sustain. Tour. 3:1368164. doi: 10.3389/frsut.2024.1368164

Received: 10 January 2024; Accepted: 15 January 2024;
Published: 30 January 2024.

Edited and reviewed by: Michal Apollo, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland

Copyright © 2024 Schänzel and Yang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Heike Schänzel,

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.