by Leo Jakobson | January 29, 2018
Marriott International announced today that it has signed on to an industry effort to combat human trafficking. 

On Jan. 29, the world's largest hotel company signed onto the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. The Code is key to an effort by anti-trafficking group End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) to involve and educate tourism businesses on ways to spot and stop human traffickers.

The United Nations' International Labour Organization estimates that 40.3 million people are exploited in human trafficking, a quarter of them children. Travel providers such as hotels, airlines, and buses are often used to transport children, and online classifieds are used to lure travelers to hotel rooms used as sites of abuse.

"Everyone has a role in fighting human trafficking and preventing child sexual exploitation," said David Rodriguez, executive vice president and global chief human resources officer, Marriott International. "At Marriott International, we are training all of our associates on how to identify the indicators of human trafficking and partnering with ECPAT-USA and the broader industry to stop this crime from landing at our front doors and in our communities." 

The Code is not Marriott's first action on this issue, having worked with ECPAT in 2011 in the development of training to help hotel employees recognize clues of human trafficking, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children. A year ago, the firm mandated human trafficking training at all of its properties across 127 countries. As of this month 225,000 employees have received the training. Six of the 10 largest hotel companies now partner with ECPAT on this issue, as do airlines such as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, as well as meetings industry firms including Carlson Wagonlit and Maritz Travel. Ridesharing service Uber also signed the Code on Jan. 29.

ECPAT's Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct is a voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.