I just returned from Seville, Spain, where the World Travel & Tourism Council held its annual summit. In addition to President Obama’s one-hour conversation with Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta (here’s a 22-minute clip I captured), the biggest takeaway for me was the announcement of WTTC’s new global taskforce—a partnership of WTTC members and sector associations—dedicated to combatting human trafficking around the globe.
It’s the first global, industry-wide initiative to assert zero tolerance and share best practices, according to the WTTC, and a number of big names in travel are among the founding members: Airbnb, Amex GBT, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, Ctrip.com International, CWT, Emirates, Expedia Group, Hilton, JTB Corp, Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority, Marriott International, Silversea, Thomas Cook, and TUI.
According to the UN’s page on the subject, human trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” It’s estimated that at least 30 million people are victims of it in some form in 2019 (a quarter of them are children), and as a whole the trafficking industry is worth roughly $150 billion.
The new WTTC taskforce outlined its mission in four parts:
- Prevention: to increase industry and consumer awareness of human trafficking. It is proven the more we know the more can be prevented.
- Protection: to train employees and travellers on how to identify and report suspected cases.
- Action: to encourage governments to enact legislation which recognises human trafficking as a crime throughout the entire chain and develop resources and support needed such as national hotlines.
- Support: to provide assistance, employability training and employment opportunities to survivors.
“Human trafficking is a devastating, widespread and critical issue that unfortunately relies on Travel & Tourism networks to operate,” said Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC. “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.”