On Anti Slavery Day ITP helps raise awareness of human trafficking in the hospitality industry

Time to address human trafficking on Anti Slavery Day

Time to address human trafficking on Anti Slavery Day

Today - 18th October - is Anti-Slavery Day in the UK. This campaigning day was created by an Act of Parliament to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire people to eliminate it. Now, International Tourism Partnership is joining the call to end human trafficking.

Modern-Day Slavery is the exploitation of human beings for profit and it takes many forms including sexual exploitation, forced labour, child trafficking, and domestic servitude. Slavery today is a global business and the source of huge profits for the traffickers and crime syndicates. United Nations figures suggest that 800,000 people are trafficked annually.

In the UK, support agencies, police and the wider community have identified thousands of victims of trafficking including women and girls; men and boys. They have been trafficked from every corner of the world.

Government and law enforcement agencies have pinpointed the hospitality industry as being at high risk for human trafficking. With this in mind, the International Tourism Partnership produced a Know How Guide earlier this year to help hoteliers understand human trafficking and forced labour; what it is, how it may affect them and what actions they can take to reduce the risk of trafficking in their business.

Here are some facts and stats to help illustrate the issue.

Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the intention to exploit them. It’s a complex problem brought about by inter-related economic, social, cultural, political and personal factors. Those trafficked are exploited into prostitution, forced labour, they may have their organs removed, or they are used in other emerging forms of trafficking including organised begging, benefit fraud, domestic servitude and forced marriage.

Globally, for hoteliers it’s an issue they need to be aware of. In more than 50 countries worldwide there is an ‘extreme risk’ that companies may inadvertently be complicit in forced labour, and in more than 70 countries an extreme risk exists that trafficking - in particular for sexual exploitation - is taking place in or around their company.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons states that;

  • Women account for 55-60 per cent of all trafficking victims detected globally; women and girls together account for about 75 per cent.
  • Twenty-seven per cent of all victims detected globally are children. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.
  • Trafficking for sexual exploitation is more common in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas. Trafficking for forced labour is more frequently detected in Africa and the Middle East, as well as in South and East Asia and the Pacific.
  • Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58 per cent of all trafficking cases detected globally, while trafficking for forced labour accounts for 36 per cent. The share of detected cases of trafficking for forced labour has doubled over the past four years.
  • Victims of 136 different nationalities were detected in 118 countries worldwide between 2007 and 2010.
  • Between 2007 and 2010, almost half of victims detected worldwide were trafficked across borders within their region of origin. Some 24 per cent were to a different region.
  • The number of convictions for trafficking in persons is in general very low. Notably, of the 132 countries covered, 16 per cent did not record a single conviction between 2007 and 2010.

Implications for the hotel industry

Human trafficking can impact a hotel in a variety of ways;

  • Use of a hotel for the sexual exploitation of adults and children
  • Staff, and in particular those recruited or subcontracted via unscrupulous agencies, being victims of forced or bonded labour
  • Products and services supplied to the hotel being produced by forced or bonded labour, labour exploitation and unethical labour practices

There is no evidence to suggest that either large chains or smaller independent hotels are more at risk. The risk is higher in properties where there is sub-contracted staff, hiring of migrant workers, lack of policy and enforcement and lack of awareness in staff.

Protect your staff and business

Protect your staff and business


The business case for action

  1. Hotels have a moral obligation to ensure their business is not open to the exploitation of children and adults for sexual purposes and forced labour.
  2. It is the law to protect against forced labour and sexual exploitation. Ignorance and failure to carry out the right checks are no defence in a court of law.
  3. Investor groups are increasingly asking questions of a company’s anti-trafficking policies and activities.
  4. There is a growing move to legislation requiring companies to disclose their anti-trafficking policies and activities. This already exists in the USA in the California Transparency in the Supply Chain Act, and similar legislation has been proposed in the UK.
  5. Opportunity to build brand and position business as a leader on human rights issues.
  6. The adoption of ethical recruitment practices can not only help protect corporate identity, but they can also significantly enhance staff morale and operational efficiency.
  7. It only takes one case of trafficking to be uncovered in your hotel to have very serious consequences for your business.
  8. The risk to reputation and profit is real – it costs more to manage the media than do the right thing.

It’s the responsibility of all to ensure their company is not – however unwittingly – contributing to human trafficking and slavery.

On Anti Slavery Day the ITP is asking everyone in hospitality to take some time to learn, consider the issues and identify ways to ensure they are not complicit.

For more information and advice on measures you can take to protect your business and staff, please download our Know How Guide or read more here.

Statistics on human trafficking

Statistics on human trafficking


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