Shiva Hotels is launching industry-leading measures to tackle modern slavery and raise awareness of the issue across its portfolio of hotels. The launch coincides with World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July.
The new measures will include practical training for more than 400 employees and a consumer-facing campaign for guests in five UK hotels that receive more than 750,000 guests every year.
COMBAT, a European Commission funded project, found that annually 93,000 people were sexually exploited and another 4,500 were exploited for labour  in European hotels. With an estimated 11,700 people living in modern slavery in the UK, there is an opportunity for the hotel and hospitality industry to help combat sexual exploitation and forced labour.
Starting today, Shiva Hotels is train its staff this week on how to safeguard against the risks of modern slavery in facilities, employment practices and supply chains. Hotel staff and guests can both play a role in the detection of modern slavery. Signs they have been asked to look out for include, among others:
- Adult guests who appear secretive about their visit or trying to conceal that they are with a young person.
- Behavioural observations such as one person being overly controlling or not allowing the other to speak.
- Unusual repeat bookings made in cash or late check-ins without any luggage.
Each hotel in the portfolio will also run a consumer-facing campaign in its lobby on 30 July, in support of the United Nations' Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking . Guests and staff will be encouraged to create a heart shape using their hands, and share the image on social media using #IGiveHope. The campaign seeks to raise awareness and inspire action against modern slavery whilst showing solidarity with victims. Information and leaflets on what people can do to take action will also be available.
Last autumn, Shiva Foundation convened a group of hotel industry leaders, including Hilton, Bespoke Hotels and WGC, to form the Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network. The network brings together representatives from across the hotel industry to combat human trafficking and modern slavery within the sector. Its ethos is that people across the industry, whether international brands, bespoke hotel groups, independent owners, managers or employment agencies, are all responsible for combating modern slavery. The network fosters communication and collaboration to establish industry-wide anti-trafficking tools and guidance.
Like the International Tourism Partnership , Shiva Foundation is showing how hotels can collaborate with industry peers on the issue. They are also sharing practical guidance, best practice and training materials that have been used to develop the Blueprint recently piloted at one of their hotels, the DoubleTree by Hilton London Excel.
Rishi Sachdev, Director of Shiva Hotels, said, "Modern slavery is an urgent issue that affects thousands of people across the UK and as a hotelier we have the opportunity to lead the way in addressing this issue. By ensuring our staff and guests are aware of the risks, we can help to prevent modern slavery and ensure the safety and livelihoods of those who may be at risk."
Mike Mason-Shaw, General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton London Excel, said, "It has been great to see how my team has been with this initiative. There is a real sense of empowerment, and staff from all levels are engaged and feel confident about staying vigilant or reporting concerns. I've delivered the training to over 100 employees, and I feel proud in the knowledge that we're doing what we can to start tackling modern slavery."
Mason-Shaw also worked closely with the Metropolitan Police through Operation MakeSafe, which was developed in partnership with London's boroughs to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in the business community, such as hotels.
The Stop Slavery Hotel Industry Network has launched a website and resource hub , funded and coordinated by Shiva Foundation. The website will provide information on the network, its core purpose and its activities, whilst the hub will provide industry members, as well as the wider business community, with access to a range of relevant anti-trafficking materials and resources, all created by reputable organisations or governments.
Professor Alexandros Paraskevas of COMBAT said, "The launch of this resource hub shows the effectiveness of collaboration and is a significant step-up in trafficking prevention measures. It is a practical and useful step towards aiding businesses in identifying and preventing modern slavery where is occurs. All COMBAT resources will be made freely available via the hub and it is exciting to know they will be accessible for an even broader audience."