Labor trafficking, sex trafficking…human trafficking. All of which can be found in the hotel industry. In an industry worth over $150 billion, it’s no surprise that the anonymity of hotels provides a hotbed (no pun intended) of trafficking activity. Over 1,000 instances of human trafficking are reported each year in the hotel industry, according to the Polaris Project. The top nationality reported? U.S. Over 59% of those identified in cases of hotel industry trafficking are from the United States (followed by Philippines and China). The following statistics are from 2007-2015, put together by Polaris. However, note that not all callers or victims identify their demographics.
The good news is that some hotels have stepped up their labor practices and have taken on the great task of educating their thousands of employees regularly on how to identify signs of human trafficking.
While it’s important to know which hotels do not engage in exploitative labor activities, it’s equally important to recognize the work of hotels that are active in the fight against trafficking across the board. Though many hotel groups have taken an active role against sex and labor trafficking, some shining exemplary initiatives have been undertaken by Wyndham, Hyatt, and Hilton.
Wyndham Hotel Group has partnered with Polaris for a program in hotel placement support for victims through Points for Polaris, along with training and education for all levels of their staff.
Hilton was the first hotel chain to join the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights in 2016, as well the founding member of the UK Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network. They’ve committed to training their staff of over 65,000 word-wide in not only slavery and human trafficking, but also ethics and human rights topics. The also created the Hilton Anti-Trafficking Fund to support grassroots anti-trafficking efforts around the world, helping over 1,500 children since its creation in 2014!
Hyatt has been active in the fight against human trafficking and has mandatory anti-trafficking programs for all hotels. They are a signatory to the ECPAT Code of Conduct, support the Department of Homeland Security Blue campaign’s program to end human trafficking, and are in compliance with the UK Modern Day Slavery Act. Notably, they’ve also developed the International Tourism Partnership’s (ITP’s) Position Statement on Human Trafficking. Taking it even further, Hyatt has has provided survivors of human trafficking with hospitality skills training through the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) since 2013 and, in Vietnam, Park Hyatt Saigon and Hyatt Regency Danang work with STREETS International, a non-profit organization, to support an 18-month residential program in culinary and hospitality training.
Think anti-trafficking is just for big chains? Not at all! Every accommodation from bed and breakfasts to small boutique hotels can sign on to “The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism,” (www.thecode.org) put together by by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and UNICEF.