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Sector acts on human trafficking

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the World Travel & Tourism Council has launched a new report on how the global Travel & Tourism sector can help eradicate human trafficking.


The study came as Marriott International launched an updated version of its human trafficking awareness training – the next step in the company’s goal to train all of its on-property associates to recognise and respond to potential indicators of human trafficking at hotels by 2025.


The world has changed significantly in the five years since the company launched the initial training. COVID-19 has ushered in more contactless and mobile hotel experiences, which can make it more difficult to spot potential indicators of trafficking.


The new training builds upon the original training’s foundation by featuring scenario-based modules, a mobile-friendly design, and increased guidance on how to respond to potential situations of human trafficking – critical enhancements based on hotel-level feedback to help associates turn awareness into action and continue the fight against the multinational crime. Additionally, the new training was developed in collaboration with survivors of human trafficking, ensuring the training is victim-centred and the resources are survivor-informed.


“As an industry that cares deeply about human rights and the horrible crime of human trafficking, we have a real responsibility to address this issue in a meaningful way,” said Anthony Capuano, Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International. “The updated training empowers a global workforce that stands ready to recognise and respond to human trafficking and allows our company to live up to our core values.”


As the company did with its original training, Marriott plans to donate this training and work with ECPAT-USA and the American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation to make it widely available in early 2022 to help educate the entire hospitality industry.

"Marriott International has been a crucial ally in ECPAT-USA’s child protection work for years, including developing critical training that gives hotel associates the tools and resources to be able to identify and respond to human trafficking,“ said Lori L. Cohen, CEO of ECPAT-USA.


“Half a million hotel associates [from other companies] have already completed the existing e-learning programme since we made it available in 2020, and the new information and innovative features of this updated training will facilitate an even greater impact. Awareness of and training on these issues are essential for members of the hotel and hospitality industry, and we are so grateful to leaders in the private sector like Marriott for their long-term collaboration on this issue.”


“Training plays a critical role in prevention efforts, and we are extremely grateful for Marriott’s generosity to provide these innovative human trafficking awareness trainings for free to the industry in collaboration with ECPAT-USA and Polaris with the support of the AHLA Foundation,” said Chip Rogers, president & CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association. “We have already been able to train half a million hotel workers since the original training was launched for free in 2020, and these new trainings will continue to help us get closer to our goal of training every hotel employee.”


The WTTC’s report was released with support from the Carlson Family Foundation, and builds on WTTC’s Human Trafficking Taskforce, which was launched in 2019 at its Global Summit in Seville, Spain.


The report details an action framework to tackle human trafficking, around four main pillars: Awareness, Education & Training, Advocacy, and Support.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that on any given day in 2016, more than 40 million people around the world were victims of human trafficking.

The pandemic has not only put a spotlight on pre-existing inequalities but exacerbated them. This has accelerated the urgent need for targeted actions within the Travel & Tourism sector.


The report offers solutions both within the sector and beyond, as the complexity of these transnational crimes require multi-disciplinary efforts and concerted coordinated action by stakeholders, such as states, private companies, and international organisations around the world.


For the Travel & Tourism sector, this means involving the expertise of all stakeholders, including survivors, as well as civil society organisations to establish joint initiatives.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President and Acting CEO, WTTC said: “Human trafficking is a global crime which preys on the vulnerable, continues to grow and affect the lives of millions around the world.


“This vital report offers a framework for the Travel & Tourism sector to play its part to help combat human trafficking. Given the sector’s inadvertent position in the path of human traffickers, we need to shoulder our responsibility to ensure that the Travel & Tourism sector offers a safe and welcoming environment for those who work within it.


“Ultimately, travel is something that brings people together, and it is critical that we proactively help address this crime.


The sector needs a cohesive approach and focus its efforts on driving forward advocacy related to human trafficking by engaging all key stakeholders. We hope that this report can aid in that task.”


This in-depth report highlights the need to work on facilitating an approach which will enhance the understanding of the crime of human trafficking, enable better identification, prevention, and mitigation of potential and actual impacts of the sector, and further public-private collaboration to ensure that appropriate steps are taken by governments when human trafficking is detected.



Contributors to the report included: Carlson, CWT, AMEX GBT, Marriott International, Hilton, Ingle, JTB Corp, ECPAT International, Airbnb, AIG Travel, Bicester Village Shopping Collection, Emirates, Expedia Group, ITF, It’s a Penalty, Marano Perspectives.


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