Press Release

Wyndham Destinations Becomes First Timeshare Company to Commit to ECPAT Code to End Human Trafficking

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2019– Wyndham Destinations (NYSE:WYND), the world’s largest vacation ownership and exchange company, today became the first timeshare company to sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct with ECPAT-USA. The formal agreement solidifies the commitment Wyndham Destinations has previously made at its 225 managed vacation club resorts in North America, the Caribbean, and Asia Pacific to combat human trafficking. By signing the agreement, the company joins many of the major hotel chains in actively protecting children from exploitation.

Corporate partners help mitigate the risks associated with a crime that affects millions of youth worldwide. By signing The Code and joining ECPAT-USA in the fight against trafficking, organizations become part of the ECPAT-USA family of advocates, who are all making critical headway toward ending child slavery at the source.

Michael D. Brown President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Wyndham Destinations, left, and Michelle Guelbart sign The Code.

Michael D. Brown President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Wyndham Destinations, left, and Michelle Guelbart sign The Code.

As the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children, ECPAT-USA focuses on awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of ECPAT International, a network of organizations in 95 countries working together toward one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children.

Traffickers are known to use hotels, airlines, and other travel infrastructure to exploit or transport their victims. Hotels can play a key role in preventing and disrupting the commercial sexual exploitation of children by training employees to recognize and report suspected incidents to the appropriate authorities.

James Savina, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Wyndham Destinations, from left, Michael D. Brown President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Wyndham Destinations, Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA, Kimberly Marshall, Chief Human Resources Officer for Wyndham Destinations

James Savina, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Wyndham Destinations, from left, Michael D. Brown President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Wyndham Destinations, Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA, Kimberly Marshall, Chief Human Resources Officer for Wyndham Destinations

This year, Wyndham Destinations produced its first Social Responsibility Report, including a Human Rights Policy Statement, in which the company pledges to operate in a manner consistent with the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

“Wyndham Destinations is committed to protecting human rights within our sphere of influence and doing our part to combat all forms of human trafficking,” said James Savina, general counsel and corporate secretary of Wyndham Destinations. “The travel and tourism industry has an important role in preventing the exploitation of children. By partnering with ECPAT and promoting required training and education to associates globally, we have taken a stand against the commercial sexual exploitation of children.”

“We are excited to announce this new partnership with Wyndham Destinations,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA. “As the first timeshare company to join The Code, Wyndham Destinations is helping to engage with a previously untapped sector of the travel industry in the fight to protect children from trafficking and exploitation.”

By signing The Code, Wyndham Destinations commits to making progress around six essential steps to keep children safe. The company will: Establish a Policy and procedures; Train employees; Include a clause in contracts; Provide information to travelers; Support, collaborate & engage stakeholders; and Annually report progress on The Code to ECPAT.

ECPAT-USA Releases Benchmarking Report Measuring How The Travel Industry Is Continuing To Fight Trafficking

The report is a comprehensive study of 70 companies in the industry

BROOKLYN, NY (September 27, 2019) -- In recognition of World Tourism Day, ECPAT-USA is launching its latest report today that details how different sectors in the travel and tourism are working to protect children. Stamping Out Exploitation in Travel is a benchmarking report that presents key findings and themes from a study of 70 companies in the travel industry on their initiatives to fight human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The report establishes a way to measure progress, identifies the baseline for their engagement, and highlights best practices to encourage cross-learning within the travel industry.

The private sector plays a major role in ensuring that profits do not come at the expense of children. Especially in the travel and hospitality industry, there is both a great responsibility and opportunity to ensure associates have the knowledge and resources to address human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. 

“Since ECPAT-USA started working with the travel industry on this issue over ten years ago, we have been incredibly proud of the way our partners have stepped up and taken concrete steps to protect children from trafficking and exploitation,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA. “We believe Stamping Out Exploitation in Travel will help us measure improvements in policies and procedures aimed at ending sex trafficking and promote best practices across all sectors of the industry in order to work together to ensure every child’s right to grow up free from exploitation.”

Key Report Findings:

  • The travel industry’s average score on their Stamping out Exploitation in Travel efforts is 38%. The score is based on a comprehensive analysis, by ECPAT-USA, of all policies and practices that prevent and respond to human trafficking and exploitation.

  • Companies that partner with ECPAT-USA and are members of The Code have an average score of 47%, which is 31% higher than non-Code members who average 16%.

  • The 8 industries of Stamping out Exploitation in Travel analyzed by ECPAT-USA were:

    • Associations

    • Aviation (Airlines, Airports)

    • Conferences & Meeting Management

    • Franchised Hospitality (Hotel Brands, Gaming/Casino)

    • Owned & Managed Hospitality (Hotel Management Companies, Single Property Hotels)

    • Sharing Economy (Rideshare, Home-share)

    • Tour Companies

    • Travel Management Companies

On average, the Aviation sector scored the highest, followed closely by Travel Management Companies. 

  • The four categories of Stamping out Exploitation in Travel analyzed by ECPAT-USA were:

    • Policies and Procedures

    • Implementation

    • Contracts

    • Transparency and Reporting

  • 60% of companies are actively engaging with law enforcement, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and governments on the issue.

  • Although great strides have also been made in recent years to train employees on human trafficking risks and how to respond, only one-third of companies surveyed provided training to their associates in the last twelve months, and less than half explained their training initiatives directly in policy or procedural documents.

  • Over 70% of companies have an anti-human trafficking policy that has been established, communicated to their associates and is publicly available.

The full report is available at www.ecpatusa.org/stampingout.


Four Representatives & ECPAT-USA Introduce Guide To Help Members Of Congress Discuss Child Trafficking With Constituents

Four members of the House, Chris Smith (R-NJ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Pete Olson (R-TX), joined ECPAT-USA, the leading organization fighting sex trafficking of children, in introducing a guide to help members of Congress organize a discussion with constituents when there is a trafficking case in their districts on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Capitol Visitor Center, Room 268, U.S. Capitol.

The Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide is available on ECPAT-USA’s website at this link.

“Americans are frequently surprised and alarmed to hear that child sex trafficking cases might occur right in their own backyards. Members of Congress can play an important role by using the opportunity to educate the public about the issue, how to respond and what government is doing to protect children,” said Carol Smolenski, ECPAT-USA Executive Director.

“ECPAT has been at the forefront of alerting communities and those on the frontlines – including police, health care workers, and people in the transportation and lodging industries – on how to identify predators and help victims in order to aggressively combat the scourge of human trafficking,” said Rep. Chris Smith, author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act and four other trafficking bills enacted into law. “ECPAT’s Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide will go a long way toward helping educate the public – including members of Congress – about how to identify and stop sex trafficking.”

“Protecting our young people is our national and moral responsibility,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. “ECPAT-USA’s guide is absolutely vital to spreading awareness and helping our communities confront and understand the prevalence of child sex trafficking that is perpetrated in our cities, suburbs, and rural communities. While human trafficking spans all demographics, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness and a member of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, I am painfully aware that children from high-risk backgrounds are more vulnerable to victimization, exploitation, and human trafficking. This is why today, Reps. Buchanan, Wasserman Shultz, and Steube are joining me in introducing the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2019, to introduce critical trafficking and exploitation prevention training into our highest-need school communities. I’m grateful for ECPAT-USA’s endorsement and look forward to continuing to work with this leading organization to combine awareness with prevention efforts to spare young people from the horrors of this modern-day form of slavery.”

“Human trafficking is a crisis that occurs each day in our very own communities,” said Congressman Michael McCaul. “In Texas alone, 300,000 people are entrapped in this nightmare. As a country, we need to wake up to the fact that this is a crisis and actively wipe out this modern day form of slavery. I commend ECPAT for all the excellent work they have done, and continue to do, in our communities to raise awareness of human trafficking in the U.S. I will continue to work with law enforcement and advocacy groups such as ECPAT, and others.”

“Stopping human trafficking is an important issue that hits close to home — just last month, a police sting in my district led to the arrest of dozens of human traffickers,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “I’ve been working closely with local elected officials for years to try to end this brutal form of modern day slavery. Organizations like ECPAT and their Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide are an important part of the solution. As Co-Chair of the Victim’s Rights Caucus in Congress and with the exceptional work of law enforcement, local advocates and volunteers, we must end this evil once and for all.”

“I want to thank all our partners, Reps. Alcee Hastings, Mike McCaul and Pete Olson for their continued partnership with ECPAT-USA in ending child exploitation and trafficking. Their dedication to protecting children from this heinous crime is admirable and we are grateful to have their voices in Congress. I also want to thank Congressman Chris Smith, a long-time leader whose name is synonymous with anti-trafficking in the U.S. Congressman Smith was the Republican House sponsor for the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act, signed into law in 2000. It is the centerpiece for all of the anti-trafficking work in the United States that has occurred since then. He has been absolutely steadfast in ensuring that the issue stays front and center in both national and international policy discussions,” Smolenski said.

The resources in this guide were developed by ECPAT-USA for elected officials to take the lead in their districts in helping community members confront and understand the existence of sex trafficking in their midst. It is expected that the guide will be useful after a case of sex trafficking has been identified in the district. Americans are frequently surprised and alarmed to hear that these trafficking cases might occur right in their own backyards and are not aware of all the forms that human trafficking can take, specifically sex trafficking. It is not a crime that only happens to people in other countries, it happens frequently here in the U.S.

The resource guide will help Members of Congress to plan a community meeting with suggestions for who to invite, an agenda, talking points, a sample press release, and background information about the topic.

The launch of the Guide was made possible through the support of the following sponsors: The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), UBER, MGM Resorts International, American Airlines, Marriott International, Hilton, and Guidepost Solutions. Marriott International is the lunch sponsor.


Lori L. Cohen To Take the Helm at ECPAT-USA

Lori L. Cohen

Lori L. Cohen

ECPAT-USA, the preeminent policy organization working to protect children in the United States from commercial sexual exploitation, is delighted to announce the selection of its new Executive Director, Lori L. Cohen.  She will assume her new position on November 4, 2019.

Ms. Cohen brings a wealth of experience to ECPAT-USA’s work to end human trafficking.  Prior to joining ECPAT-USA, she created and directed the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families, Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services.  Her team garnered widespread recognition, assisting more than 2000 adult and child victims survivors of human trafficking and other forms of gender-based abuse. 

A graduate of Yale Law School, Ms. Cohen has drawn upon her experience representing victims to engage in anti-trafficking policy advocacy on federal, state and local levels.  She has conducted trainings in the US and abroad for audiences as diverse as child welfare advocates, attorneys, judges, bankers, law enforcement, medical practitioners, Mexican congressional representatives, inmates at a state women’s correctional facility, and Russian LGBTQ activists.

“We were daunted by the task of finding an individual who could build on the stupendous work for more than twenty-five years of our current Director, Carol  Smolenski. Carol and ECPAT have created awareness of the prevalence of the commercial exploitation of American children and through our advocacy and programs have been the recognized leader in advocating for the protection of children’s rights against this exploitation. Lori is the ideal individual to strengthen and expand this work!” said Jackie Shapiro, Chair of the Board of ECPAT-USA and Co-Chair of the ED Search Committee.

“It is a tremendous privilege to succeed Carol Smolenski in her pioneering work at ECPAT-USA,” noted Ms. Cohen.  “In the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, ECPAT’s mission educating the public about the risks facing our children from sex buyers is more urgent than ever.  As Executive Director for ECPAT-USA, I am eager to advocate for policies ensuring that, one day, no child will ever again be bought or sold for sex.”

Children Abused in Sex Images on the Internet Mostly Aged 11 or Younger New Study Finds

ECPAT-USA Report “We Need to Do Better” based on news reports from 48 states 

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to read the full report.

More than half of children sexually abused in the millions of videos and photos available on the Internet are age 11 or younger, including 17 percent age 4 or younger, according to “We Need to Do Better”, a study released today by ECPAT-USA, the country’s leader in fighting child sex trafficking. The study is based on information from 538 news reports of crimes from 48 of the 50 U.S. states over a three-month period. Offenders, those creating, possessing and disseminating the material, are often in the child’s circle of trust: 56% were connected to schools or other youth work or a religious institution.  

“Despite the astounding growth in child sexual abuse material crimes over the past twenty years, the general public has little understanding about what it means, how vast the problem is, and how violently the children are abused in order to produce the imagery depicted in photographs and recordings of child sexual abuse,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “We don’t use the word ‘pornography’ because the accurate description is images of sexual assault on children. Sometimes this assault is very violent, and some victims are as young as infants.”

The study found out of the 538 news reports:

  • 281 (52%) reported age-related information on the victim. 

    • 17.4% of victims were age 4 or younger. 

    • 36.7% of victims were age 9 or younger. 

    • 58.0% of victims were age 11 or younger. 

    • 72.6% of victims were age 13 or younger.

  • 133 (24.7%) reported the gender of the victim.

    • 72.9% of victims were female. 

    • 27.1% of victims were male.

  • 114 (21.2%) reported the profession of the offender.

    •  43.0% of cases involved an offender who was a teacher, school employee, youth worker, coach, or youth mentor. 

    • 19.3% of cases involved an offender who was in law enforcement or the armed forces, i.e., police sergeant, officer, state trooper, deputy, detective, public safety dispatcher, or a member of the army, air force, navy or coast guard. 

    • 13.2% of cases involved an offender who was a church worker, including priests and pastors. 

    • 7.0% of cases involved an offender who was a medical professional, i.e., doctor, surgeon, pediatrician, dentist, EMS worker, and health worker

  • All of the cases disclosed the gender of the offenders. 

    • 97% (521 cases) involved a male offender. 

    • 3% (17 cases) involved a female offender.

  • All of the news articles disclosed the age of the offenders. 

    • In 3% of cases, the offender was under the age of 21. 

    • In 61% of cases, the offender was between the ages of 21 and 44. 

    • In 30% of cases, the offender was between 45 and 64 years of age. 

    • In 6% of cases, the offender was over the age of 65.

The data on the 538 cases was gathered by using Google Alerts to find media reports in the United States from October to December of 2015. They include stories written at the time of arrest or, in some cases, at the time of trial or sentencing of a perpetrator.

In recent years the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material has become much more widespread, with younger children being depicted. The invention of digital technology and the Internet have completely changed the playing field for the crime, making it easy for offenders to create, conceal and spread this material.

The ECPAT-USA report also summarizes the findings of other organizations:

  • Victims are getting younger. According to the USDoJ, the ages of victims depicted in child abuse imagery have significantly decreased. In 2014, 7% of victims were infants. According to the We Protect Global Alliance, this increase in pre-verbal children in recent years has been due to a deliberate effort to involve children who cannot self-report their abuse or describe what happened.

  • Images are more violent than ever: Reports by other organizations describe the increasing violence shown in the images. A report by ECPAT International and Interpol in 2018 found that more than 60% of victims were prepubescent and that the younger the child that was depicted, the more severe was the abuse.

  • There’s more than ever: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC’s) CyberTipline received over 10.2 million reports of child sex abuse materials in 2017, a stark increase from the 1.1 million it received in 2014. And then it almost doubled in one year, reaching 18.4 million reports in 2018.

  • Videos are traded, giving more people the incentive to create them. For the most part, transactions appear to be non-commercial. In 2014, 91% of videos analyzed or processed by the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) were “shared or traded among like-minded criminal individuals at no cost.” Thus, “In order to have the requisite ‘new’ images needed to barter for images in return, a defendant may decide to produce images of his own abuse of a child.”

“This report draws attention to the tremendous growth in the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse material,” Smolenski said. “Because it is illegal to own even a single child sexual abuse image, and many people have never seen the images or heard about the issue, it is difficult for the public to grasp the nature and horror of the crime and the extreme abuse that is depicted. But it is important for there to be public knowledge about the problem if we are to create better policies and practices to protect children.”

The report includes recommendations for all segments of society including: 

The public:

  • Write to your legislator to tell him or her that you are concerned about this new growth of child sexual abuse materials and ask for greater regulation of tech companies.

Policy makers:

  • Federal and state sex offender laws should be strengthened and standardized to keep offenders from falling through the cracks.

  • A federal commission should be appointed to investigate and develop recommendations for how to make the Internet a safe place for children.

The private sector:

  • Robust background screening policies should be in place for anyone who works with children, including those who work as online moderators for tech companies.

  • All computer repair companies and technicians should receive awareness training about how to respond when this material is identified on a computer.

Schools: 

  • Education for parents, educators and youth about online safety should be implemented in every school across the country.

Religious institutions: 

  • Robust background checks should be in place for every person who works at a faith-based institution.

  • Mechanisms should be in place for children to safely report incidents of abuse to a safe and trusted adult.

The media: 

  • Report on the vast scale of child sexual abuse materials and provide details.  

  • Hold institutions responsible for their response or lack of one.

Although the term child pornography is used commonly in official documents and media, ECPAT-USA prefers the term child sexual abuse material. The word pornography refers to material with adult sexual content that in many cases is made and distributed legally, involving individuals who are legally old enough to provide sexual consent. It is ECPAT-USA’s position that the term child pornography does not adequately convey the horror and violence of sexual crimes against children.


Fox World Travel Announces Anti-Trafficking Partnership with ECPAT-USA

Today, Fox World Travel joined the fight against human trafficking by signing ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) during its participation at the GBTA Conference in Chicago.  Signing “The Code”, a set of business principles travel and tourism companies implement to specifically combat child sex trafficking, symbolizes Fox World Travel’s commitment to helping raise awareness of human trafficking and child sex trafficking throughout the travel and tourism industry.

 “We are honored to Soar Together with ECPAT-USA to bring awareness of human trafficking to our Fox Family members, partners and travelers,” said Chip Juedes, Fox World Travel CEO. “Our partnership with ECPAT-USA gives us the ability to take an active role in the education of this important issue, hopefully leading to the safety of many innocent children.”

Fox World Travel is proud to announce its partnership with ECPAT-USA, the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial sexual exploitation by raising awareness, advocating for victims, and pushing for policy and legislative changes to protect them. As a leader in both the global consumer and business travel industry, Fox World Travel is positioned to provide a unique opportunity to help.

Human trafficking is an international and multi-billion-dollar market whose proceedings are often unwittingly facilitated by the travel and hospitality industries. The United Nations’ International Labour Organization estimates that more than 40 million people around the world are trapped in modern-day exploitation. Traffickers often use air travel to transport victims and use hotels as venues to abuse them.  

“Here at Fox, we are committed to doing our part in bettering society. We believe it is our duty not only as members of the travel industry, but simply as human beings, to fight global injustices against children by joining ECPAT-USA in their mission,” said Juedes.

In addition to partnering with ECPAT-USA, Fox World Travel has also become a member of the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. The Code is the world’s first and only voluntary set of business principles travel and tour companies can implement to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. The Code provides members with support and resources to raise awareness; in turn, members commit to implementing six essential measures:

  • Establish policies and procedures against human trafficking and child exploitation

  • Train employees on said policies and procedures

  • Include a contract clause for business partners, including requests for proposals

  • Provide information to travelers

  • Support, collaborate & engage stakeholders

  • Report annually on initiatives

“We are excited to partner with Fox World Travel and welcome them as the newest member of The Code,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA.  “Through committing to train associates and establish policies to prevent child sex trafficking, Fox World Travel is taking concrete steps to protect children around the world from exploitation.” With these core measures in place, our work throughout the year will expand upon these commitments, especially raising both industry-wide and public awareness. 

Hotel Industry Unites On New Campaign To Fight Human Trafficking

‘No Room for Trafficking’ Aims to Train Every Employee in the Industry

WASHINGTON (June 26, 2019) – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today launched a new national campaign to unite the industry around a single, comprehensive approach to fight human trafficking. The No Room for Trafficking campaign builds on the hotel industry’s long-standing legacy and commitment to combat human trafficking. Already each year, thousands of hotel employees are trained. With this campaign, AHLA builds on the industry’s record by convening the entire industry with the goal of training every hotel worker.

“No Room for Trafficking sends a loud and clear message: we will not tolerate human trafficking in the hotel industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Thanks to our dedicated associates, our industry already has a strong record of combatting trafficking and supporting survivors. There is still much more to do, and our commitment to training and education will continue to make a difference.”

The hotel industry has long recognized the critical role it plays in ending the scourge of human trafficking, and through innovative techniques and employee training has played an instrumental role in identifying, reporting and stopping instances of human trafficking.

AHLA kicked-off the campaign at a strategic roundtable today bringing together industry leaders, government partners, law enforcement and national trafficking prevention partners to underscore the industry’s efforts around human trafficking.

Since trafficking networks often rely on legitimate businesses—many in the tourism supply chain—to sustain their illicit and illegal operations, hoteliers are uniquely positioned to identify and disrupt this terrible practice. Hoteliers can play an important role in combatting trafficking through raising awareness, improved coordination with law enforcement, and ongoing workforce training.

The No Room for Trafficking campaign outlines four core pillars to bring the hotel industry together and build upon current efforts:

  • Elevate issue awareness through increased education, resources and training for all hotel employees;

  • Assess protocols, procedures, and technologies to confirm training effectiveness and employee vigilance;

  • Educate by developing strategic intervention and disruption strategies to identify and report suspected trafficking situations;

    Support by furthering partnerships with leading national human trafficking and law enforcement organizations to establish industry standards and support survivors

As part of the campaign, AHLA is providing new resources and materials for members, including the following:

  • Action Plan for hoteliers to implement that includes training staff on what to look for and how to respond; displaying human trafficking indicator signage; establishing a companywide policy; ongoing coordination with law enforcement; and sharing success stories and best practices.

  • Companywide anti-trafficking policy template for members who may not already have a policy in place that incorporates key elements and recommendations from AHLA partners ECPAT-USA and Polaris.

  • Strategic partnerships with leading national prevention partners including ECPAT-USA, Polaris, Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), SafeHouse Project, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and many others.

  • Member Resource Guide that provides information on ways to implement the AHLA action plan, including where to access employee training and partner resources, downloadable signage, strategies to connect with law enforcement, ways to report instances of trafficking and how hotels can support survivors.

  • In addition, AHLA in partnership with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), will host a series of regional events throughout the year leading up to Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, to raise public awareness and facilitate collaboration with policymakers, law enforcement and hoteliers on best practices for policies, procedures and training to enhance our human trafficking prevention efforts.

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, 2019, AHLA will launch a Member Day of Action, providing a social media platform for hoteliers across the country to showcase their participation in the No Room for Trafficking campaign by hosting employee training seminars, pledging to complete the AHLA Action Plan, and collaborating with national prevention partners to and helping to raise awareness.

“As the leading organization partnering with legislators and the corporate community to end exploitation, we are proud to partner with AHLA on the launch of their No Room for Trafficking campaign and commend their continued leadership on this issue. It’s crucial that the hospitality industry comes together to end human trafficking. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with AHLA to protect children from exploitation,” said Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA Director of Private Sector Engagement.

“The hospitality industry is playing a critical role in helping to disrupt human trafficking through prioritization of innovative training techniques and increased resources for employees. Polaris is proud to work alongside AHLA and the industry as a partner in the No Room for Trafficking campaign, building upon the industry’s work to ensure employees remain vigilant and have a deep understanding of the most up-to-date indicators to spot human trafficking,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris.

By partnering with local, state and federal law enforcement, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, AHLA is working to bring together law enforcement and government officials to expand currently established relationships and enhance partnerships.

AHLA continues to broaden educational resources and partnerships to address employee and guest safety with wide-ranging national organizations that target sexual violence, sexual assault, trafficking and promote workplace safety, including ECPAT USA, Polaris, BEST National Sexual Violence Resource Center, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, DC Rape Crisis Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Peace Over Violence, RALIANCE, RAINN, Safe House Project, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

VIP Journeys Combats Sex Trafficking With ECPAT-USA And The Code

VIP Journeys has partnered with ECPAT-USA and joined The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) and implemented a policy against child sex trafficking. The Code is an industry-driven initiative to provide awareness, tools, and support to the private sector to help combat the sexual exploitation of children.

VIP Journeys’ policy states a zero-tolerance for child sex trafficking, instructs their associates what to do if they suspect instances of trafficking, and also addresses labor trafficking. VIP Journeys began training their staff to recognize and report suspected instances of trafficking in early 2018.

“Working closely in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and other Latin America countries we have always been compelled to give back to our communities, both locally and globally,” VIP journeys CEO and Co-Founder Michael Eiseman said. “As the eyes and ears of our partner Travel Agents and vendors, we are especially sensitive to the role and responsibility we have and that our travel brands. Human trafficking is an international and multi-billion-dollar market whose proceedings are often unwittingly facilitated by the travel and hospitality industries. As a member of the travel and tourism community, it’s our responsibility to shed light on this global atrocity. VIP Journeys manages luxury travelers and by working with our partners to include child protection language in RFPs and contracts, Tour Operators like VIP journeys can have a major impact on this issue.”

“ECPAT-USA is proud to partner with VIP Journeys to raise awareness and use their influence to combat human trafficking in the travel industry,” said Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement. “They’ve hit the ground running and we are excited to continue this partnership in order to increase ECPAT-USA’s reach and protect children globally.”

ECPAT-USA partners with private sector companies in the travel and tourism industries to combat child sexual exploitation. Click here to see a full list of partners who have signed The Code.

ECPAT-USA Issues Report On State Human Trafficking Laws For The Lodging Industry

All Materials Required by Each State Available on Web  

Brooklyn, NY (May 1, 2019) - - - To help lodging companies facing different laws about human trafficking in different states, ECPAT-USA, with the financial support of the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (AHLEF), today issued a report detailing what each state requires and providing materials to comply with the laws. The report, “Unpacking Human Trafficking A Survey of State Laws Targeting Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry”, and all necessary materials are now available on the ECPAT-USA website.

 “We know that the hospitality industry is eager to help fight human trafficking, but the many different state laws makes that complicated. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for every company in the hospitality industry to comply with the growing number of state laws by giving them one place to find out what is required in each state and to find the materials they need,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA.

“Human trafficking is a serious, international issue, and our industry, along with others in the travel and tourism industries have an important role to play in combating trafficking networks,” said AHLEF President Rosanna Maietta. “On behalf of the hotel industry and our member companies, AHLEF is committed to working with engaged partners like ECPAT-USA to support and fund research that can bring us closer to help end these heinous crimes.”

In recent years, an increasing number of states have passed laws requiring lodging facilities to display signage calling attention to the problem of human trafficking and alerting the public to the indications of trafficking, the hotline number to report suspicious activity, and services for victims. These laws take various forms and present a sometimes-confusing array of requirements that present a challenge to owners and operators of lodging facilities seeking to satisfy them. 

Similarly, a number of states have enacted legislation requiring lodging facilities to arrange for their employees to be trained to recognize signs of human trafficking and what actions to take in the event that such signs are observed. Other states do not mandate the training but have made it available on a public agency website. Additional states are currently considering similar legislation. Thus, it is safe to predict that the number of states mandating such training will continue to grow.

To help clarify the situation and facilitate legal compliance, ECPAT-USA, with the support of AHLEF, unpacked these laws by preparing a survey of all the applicable state laws currently in effect. The survey will be updated on a semi-annual basis to keep up with the constantly changing laws.

Posters that comply with the various laws, as well as additional resources for hospitality brands, management companies, and properties are available on ECPAT-USA’s website at www.ecpatusa.org/hotel. For states that do not have a human trafficking awareness signage requirement, ECPAT-USA’s Standard Hotel Poster can be utilized.

KEY FINDINGS

13 states have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities:

California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia

7 states have laws mandating human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities that have been cited as a public nuisance:

Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

12 states have voluntary human trafficking awareness signage in lodging facilities:

Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

14 states have penalties for failing to meet the human trafficking awareness signage mandates:

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina

4 states have statutes mandating training regarding human trafficking for individuals working in the lodging industry:

California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey

11 states have voluntary training laws for individuals working in the lodging industry:

Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont

In addition to state laws, there are various agency and municipal regulations, which are beyond the scope of this project. Interested parties should contact their local lodging and hotel association, chamber of commerce or governmental agencies familiar with regulations in local jurisdictions.

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ABOUT ECPAT-USA

ECPAT-USA is the leading policy 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 the ECPAT International network, with offices in 95 countries. www.ecpatusa.org

 

ABOUT AHLEF

AHLEF is the hospitality industry’s philanthropic organization, dedicated to helping people build careers that improve their lives and strengthen the lodging industry. Created in 1953, AHLEF initially focused on providing scholarships to a small group of promising hospitality students. Since that time, the Foundation has taken on a much greater mandate: ensuring a strong and viable future for the entire lodging industry. Underscoring the industry’s stories of opportunity, growth, and success, AHLEF priorities include scholarships, research and career development programs.


Sex Trafficking Survivors To Guide ECPAT-USA's Work

Creating a direct line of communication between those working to end commercial sexual exploitation and those who have first-hand experience with the issue.

Brooklyn, NY (March 11, 2019) - - Survivors of sex trafficking will now be playing a larger role in shaping the programs and materials of ECPAT-USA, the leading anti-child trafficking organization in the United States. ECPAT-USA announced today the creation of a Survivors Council comprised of seven survivors of sex trafficking. The members of the Council, one male and six female survivors, will be enlisted in reviewing and guiding current and future initiatives to ensure the efficacy and sensitivity of programs, reports and materials.

The new Survivors Council replaces the current Advisory Council, which included survivors but also many other interested individuals. The new Survivors Council will play a more active role in reviewing and providing feedback, including checking information about programs, reading reports, and viewing video and printed marketing materials. All members of the Survivors Council will be compensated at a rate of $50/hour for their time.

One of the keys to ending sex trafficking is not only showing empathy for survivors, but listening to their recommendations for how to better support other survivors, protect vulnerable populations, and craft legislation and policies that will be the most effective in preventing child sex trafficking. It is from this understanding that ECPAT-USA sought to create the Survivors Council, which allows for a direct line of communication between those working to end commercial sexual exploitation and those who have first-hand experience with the issue.

“We are humbled by the strength that each member of our Survivors Council has shown and are honored to, in some small part, support them on their journeys, as they help us help other survivors and work to prevent more children from being trafficked,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “As individuals who were directly affected by sexual exploitation, the input from this council will be an invaluable resource moving forward.”