In recent years buying fair trade coffee and clothing has become mainstream but something we at ECPAT-USA have noticed is that we never hear our friends say they are traveling responsibly. The concept of responsible travel is similar to that of purchasing fair trade goods— you choose to spend your money ethically and with respect for human rights.
Choosing a hotel is an opportunity to use your purchasing power for good—to help stop child sex trafficking.
Last week, ECPAT-USA released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. Later this week we will be highlighting hotels, and the steps they can take to combat this scourge. In this we’ll give you tips for how to be a more responsible traveler!
While child sex trafficking may seem like a crime that happens in far away places, it happens more than you think throughout the United States.
With the use of online classified ads, child sex trafficking is not only on the streets, but also behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create an ad in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims right out of the hotel or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.
While the hospitality industry is not responsible for trafficking, it does have an important role to play in helping to stop it.
Hotel rooms are a preferred venue for the sale of children because traffickers believe they are anonymous at hotels, giving them a sense that there is little risk in their behavior. For this reason, hotel associates are more likely to witness trafficking than the average person. In response, we ask hotels to train their associates on the indicators of trafficking and how to respond to it.
Many hotels are doing just that. The report we released last week, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training for their associates. It also lists which hotels in the U.S. have signed ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines travel companies, including hotels, agree to take to combat child sex trafficking; one of those steps is providing training.
One hotel brand leading the way on training is Marriott. Marriott requires associates at all the properties in their portfolio to take human rights training that covers trafficking, which is a step beyond some hotels that just recommend training.
Accor Hotels, another ECPAT-USA partner, has taken an innovative approach on this issue by tying bonuses for their managers to training. Accor managers must have held anti-trafficking training at their properties to get their bonuses. Numerous other hotels are implementing their own initiatives.
On your next trip, stay at one of these hotels.
By choosing to stay at a hotel that has employees trained to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children, you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting businesses taking a stand, and real steps, against child sex trafficking.
Or, if your favorite hotel has not signed The Code, use this letter to ask them to sign.
Every child has a right to grow up free from sexual exploitation and trafficking, and you can help by spending your travel dollars at a hotel working on this issue.