The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) announced at the end of last week that it is establishing a global taskforce to help the industry prevent and combat human trafficking – including of children for sexual purposes.
Human trafficking is worth $150 billion annually and affects more than 40 million people worldwide. An estimated 5.5 million of these are children. Its victims often end up being sexually exploited in travel and tourist destinations around the globe.
“Human trafficking is a devastating, widespread and critical issue that unfortunately relies on travel and tourism networks to operate. As a sector, we must do everything in our power to help eradicate the problem so that people may move freely and safely across the globe, but never coerced.
I am proud to today launch this vital taskforce comprised of the world’s most powerful travel leaders from across hotels, retail, airlines, cruise, technology, finance and destination management, and are wholly committed to preventing trafficking, protecting victims, supporting survivors and engaging with governments so that this pandemic ends once and for all.”
– Gloria Guevara, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council
Zero tolerance for human trafficking
The task force is comprised of members of the council and representatives of the travel sector. WTTC says that it will be the first global industry-wide initiative to assert zero tolerance for trafficking. It has the following mandate:
- PREVENTION: To increase industry and consumer awareness of human trafficking. It is proven that awareness if critical to prevention.
- PROTECTION: To train employees and travellers on how to identify and report suspected cases.
- ACTION: To encourage governments to enact legislation that recognises human trafficking as a crime that occurs throughout the entire travel and tourism chain and to develop resources and support needed – such as national hotlines.
- SUPPORT: To provide assistance, vocational training and employment opportunities to survivors.
The founding members of the taskforce include representatives from Airbnb, Amex GBT, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, Ctrip.com International, CWT, Emirates, Expedia, Hilton, JTB Corp, Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority, Marriott International, Silversea, Thomas Cook and TUI.
“ECPAT International congratulates the WTTC for this landmark step toward tackling human trafficking. We are proud to work with the council and support it in this and other endeavours that they have taken over the years to end this crime.
ECPAT has successfully worked with a wide range of travel and tourism businesses in recent years, and we see the establishment of this taskforce as another positive sign that the sector is whole heartedly committed to ending the sexual exploitation of children.”
– Robbert van den Berg, Executive Director, ECPAT International
Protecting children in travel and tourism and ending impunity for travelling child sex offenders was a key commitment made by world leaders, dozens of travel businesses, NGOs and other organizations, including WTTC – at the first International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism, held in Bogotá, Colombia in June 2018.