Tourism

ECPAT-USA Offering New Resources to Help Hotels Fight Trafficking of Children

ECPAT-USA Offering New Resources to Help Hotels Fight Trafficking of Children

ECPAT-USA and American Hotel & Lodging Association Build on Partnership to Distribute New Materials for Hotels

Brooklyn, NY (May 24, 2018) — Hotels have new resources to help associates identify and prevent human trafficking and child exploitation, ECPAT-USA announced today. Hotels can download the following materials for free from ECPAT-USA’s website

  • Informative back-of-house posters to remind staff about the signs of human trafficking and how to respond if they see suspicious activity. 

  • Position-specific indicator palm cards to share with associates so they have fast access to the signs and swiftly follow hotel protocols for responding to cases.

  • Public area (front-of-house) posters that meet several state laws, which require hotels to post signage about human trafficking that includes the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 

ECPAT-USA has a long history of working with the hotel industry. Most major hotel brands have signed the ECPAT Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code). The Code is an industry-driven set of initiatives travel companies can implement to prevent child sex trafficking and exploitation. Code companies commit to training their staff to recognize when someone might be a victim. 

“Children are identified as victims of trafficking at hotels across the country, putting hotel employees in a unique position to identify trafficking and take action to help victims,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “From check-in to check-out, there are a number of indicators victims and traffickers exhibit during the time they're on a hotel property. With proper training, a front desk agent or a housekeeper can notice that something is not right and respond.”

“AHLA and the hotel industry take the issue of human trafficking very seriously, and we recognize the important role hotels can play in helping to fight it,” said Craig Kalkut, Vice President of Government Affairs at AHLA. “AHLA and its members are focused on raising awareness within the industry, training employees, and supporting non-profit organizations and law enforcement in their efforts to combat these terrible crimes. ECPAT-USA has been a valuable partner in these efforts, and we appreciate everything they are doing to put an end to these heinous crimes.”

These newly available resources add to ECPAT-USA’s growing collection of tools for hotels. Notably, ECPAT-USA offers a training program for hotel associates developed in partnership with the hotel industry, which is distributed by American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, and is already used globally by hotel brands.


About ECPAT-USA

ECPAT-USA is the leading anti-child trafficking organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of ECPAT International, a network of organizations in more than 90 countries with one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children around the world. For more information, visit ecpatusa.org.

 

About AHLA

The American Hotel & Lodging Association is the sole national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry, and has long worked to combat human trafficking. As part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness and facilitate training in the industry, AHLA has conducted webinars for members, issued industry principles on human trafficking, hosted a variety of trafficking experts to speak at its meetings and conferences, endorsed legislation, taken part in panels discussions organized by law enforcement and other stakeholders, and partnered with organizations like ECPAT-USA.

ConferenceDirect Signs ECPAT-USA Code

Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2018) — ConferenceDirect has signed the ECPAT-USA Code, making a commitment to work against the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. The Code, or Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, was developed by ECPAT to provide awareness, tools, and support to the hospitality and tourism industry to end the sex trafficking of children.

“We’re proud to have signed ECPAT’s Code, to make an impact and help prevent sexual exploitation of children in the tourism industry. Our Associates travel often, and with the tools and training we continue to learn, we will all be more alert to potential situations,” said Brian Stevens, CEO of ConferenceDirect.

Stevens signed The Code on Tuesday, May 22nd in Washington, DC with Carol Smolenski, the Founder and Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. "We are honored to partner with ConferenceDirect to fight child sex trafficking in the global meetings industry and beyond. ConferenceDirect joins a family of leading companies committed to ending the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism by taking six steps including staff training and adopting a policy against sexual exploitation. This signing represents the latest step forward in reaching that goal,” said Smolenski. "We especially thank Brian Stevens and ConferenceDirect’s leadership for championing this vital cause to protect children from exploitation."


About ECPAT-USA

ECPAT-USA is the leading anti-child trafficking organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of ECPAT International, a network of organizations in more than 90 countries with one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children around the world. Learn more at ecpatusa.org.

 

About ConferenceDirect

Based in West Hollywood, California, ConferenceDirect is a full-service global meetings solution company whose portfolio of services includes: Site Selection & Contract Negotiation, Conference Management, Housing & Registration Services, Mobile App Technology and Strategic Meetings Management Programs. Our 350+ Associates manage over 11,000 meetings, conferences and events representing 3.88 million room nights annually for more than 2,500 customers. For more information, visit conferencedirect.com.

 

About the Code

The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, known as The Code, is the world’s first and only voluntary set of business principles that travel companies can implement to prevent child trafficking. The Code provides awareness, tools, and support to travel companies, with the aim of creating a highly aware and well-trained tourism industry that can recognize and prevent potential abuse. Since its launch in 2004, more than 40 US companies have joined the Code, including some of the world’s most notable airlines, hotels, and travel management companies. To learn more, visit ecpatusa.org/Code.

ECPAT-USA Highlights Work With Travel Sector At Congressional Briefing

Photo: Helsinki Commission

Photo: Helsinki Commission

On May 7th, ECPAT-USA had the honor of being invited to speak at a joint congressional briefing entitled "Fighting Human Trafficking in Travel and Tourism: New Challenges and Solutions." The event was sponsored by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, and the Congressional Trafficking Caucus.

For over 13 years, we have worked with the travel and tourism industries to help better protect children from exploitation. Through giving members of these industries the tools to identify and respond to situations of suspected child sex trafficking, we are better able to keep kids safe at hotels and airports. Together, we can stop trafficking in its tracks.

Read Executive Director Carol Smolenski’s full comments from the briefing below, or watch the livestream of the event.


Twenty-seven years ago, ECPAT began advocating for the protection of children from exploitation in the context of travel and tourism—a time when no one was talking about it. I am proud to say that we’ve seen tremendous progress since then.

Our first success was in 1994, when we worked to pass extra-territoriality laws that ensure US citizens traveling abroad and sexually abusing children in their destinations can be prosecuted in the United States. The law was significantly strengthened in 2003. This month, a Florida man, named David Lynch, was sentenced to 330 years in prison under these laws for exploiting several children in the Philippines.

The other big success has been the expansion of the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct. The Code was created by ECPAT in 1998 and introduced in North America in 2004. The Code is six voluntary steps that companies take to protect children from sexual exploitation. We launched The Code along side Carlson Companies. It took several years for other companies to follow suit but we are pleased that in 2011 Wyndham and Hilton both signed the Code.

Today, every large U.S. hotel chain has signed The Code: Besides the three mentioned above the others are Marriott, Choice, and Hyatt. These are six out of the 10 largest hotel chains in the world. Two of the largest domestic air carriers, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have also signed The Code.

One of the most important steps of The Code is staff training. Let me tell you a story about Benjamin, a hotel security director from Massachusetts. His hotel is so well trained that the minute a trafficker entered his property, they implemented their protocol, and his whole team knew what to do.  Raymond, the head of an international trafficking ring, who was later found to have sold children at 400 hotels before getting to Massachusetts, tried his luck at Ben’s hotel but he was stopped in his tracks. He brought two children to Ben’s hotel but instead of being abused, they were identified. And instead of Raymond walking free, he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Spreading the word to hotel associates is crucial. In 2016, ECPAT-USA partnered with Marriott to expand online human trafficking training for their associates. The training is available through the American Hotel and Lodging Association and used by hotel brands across the industry. Marriott-branded hotels trained over 335,000 associates within 15 months of requiring the training. Imagine if all US hotel brands required training.

According to a 2017 nationwide survey of hotels initiated by ECPAT-USA and carried out by New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, over half of U.S. hotels are trained to help prevent child sex trafficking. This is a tremendous development. ECPAT-USA’s full report about the impact of our work with the US hotel industry, “No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers,” is on our website.

While we have come so far, there is still a long way to go. In 2016, ECPAT published the results of a two-year Global Study on the Exploitation of Children in the Context of Travel and Tourism. The study’s 47 recommendations set the stage for the next phase of our work.

I am sharing copies of the executive summary and recommendations with you. One of the important recommendations calls for all businesses to ensure that corporate travel takes place with travel companies that adopt child protection policies, train and join ECPAT’s Code of Conduct. We are delighted about the new provisions introduced as part of the TVPRA by Congressman Smith, which call for U.S. federal employees to travel with companies incorporating anti-trafficking policies and training.

In addition, we are developing a new training for companies that manage corporate travel and events, supported by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Maritz Travel, that will bring this information to travel managers at companies across the entire private sector, not just the travel industry. These efforts will save lives.

We met Jenny, a travel manager for a finance company who went to a client convention in Mexico hosted by Maritz Travel. There was an awareness session about human trafficking because business travelers may spot human trafficking in their travels. Jenny attended the session and at the airport on the way home she saw a woman with a plastic bag as luggage, she was disheveled— indicators from her session the day before— and something about the situation didn’t sit right with Jenny so she reported her suspicions. And she was right—the girl she saw was a human trafficking victim and she was rescued because of Jenny.

Of course, the sexual exploitation of children happens outside of the travel and tourism context. One of the fastest growing areas children are exploited is through the production of child sexual abuse imagery (commonly called child pornography). Most people are not aware of A. The vast extent of this problem: The Cyber Tipline received over 10.2 million reports in 2017. B. The young age of the children: The Internet Watch Foundation reported that 55% of the images were children 10 years or younger.  And C. The violence depicted. Content showing the rape and sexual torture of children, is up this year by 5%, from 28% of all content to 33%.

Soon, ECPAT-USA will issue a report with recommendations that include stronger background checks for anyone who comes in contact with children and more oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which registers website names, among others. It is a complex and growing industry that needs a range of responses including government regulations and oversight.

As we talk about our legislative priorities, let me thank all of the offices here on the House side that were involved in the successful passage of FOSTA-SESTA legislation. It was a hard won victory, and we appreciate your offices leading the charge in spite of opposition from the tech industry.   

On May 7th, ECPAT-USA had the honor of being invited to speak at a joint congressional briefing sponsored by Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, and the Congressional Trafficking Caucus entitled "Fighting Human Trafficking in Travel and Tourism: New Challenges and Solutions."

For over 13 years, we have worked with the travel and tourism industries to help better protect children from exploitation. Through giving members of these industries the tools to identify and respond to situations of suspected child sex trafficking, we are better able to keep kids safe at hotels and airports. Together, we can stop trafficking in its tracks.