Washington State Becomes First MPI Chapter to Sign Child Trafficking Code

The Washington State Chapter (MPIWSC) of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has become the first MPI chapter to sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, it announced this week.

A collaboration between industry and the international advocacy group End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), the Code is set of six voluntary guidelines that travel and tourism businesses can implement to help them prevent and react to instances of child sex trafficking. Members who sign the Code agree to:

1. Establish a policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children;
2. Train employees in children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases;
3. Include a clause in contracts throughout the value chain stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children;
4. Provide information to travelers on children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and how to report suspected cases;
5. Support, collaborate and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children; and
6. Report annually on their implementation of Code-related activities.

Because child sex traffickers often transport their victims by bus, air, train and taxi, then frequently move them to hotels — where they are sold for days on end — the tourism industry has a critical role to play in ending the child sex trade.

“As a chapter and leaders in our industry, it’s important for us to bring this awareness to the forefront of our community. We feel it’s our duty & obligation,” MPIWSC President Jeannette Davidson, director of sales at corporate and teambuilding company Geoteaming, said in a statement. “It’s surprising how deeply this issue runs in our industry. It’s refreshing to know the Code exists and that we can be part of the solution by raising awareness in our community and helping to pave the way for others to adopt the same principles.”

As an association signatory of the Code, MPIWSC has pledged to create a policy against child sexual exploitation, educate its members on the issue and report annually to ECPAT-USA, the U.S. arm of ECPAT.

“Meeting Professionals International Washington State Chapter’s network will help to spread the word about the important roles for both travel buyers and suppliers in protecting children,” said Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement at ECPAT-USA. “We hope their efforts will work as a multiplier, encouraging more companies to take a stand to protect children.”