The Travel Industry’s Fight to Halt Human Trafficking

Human trafficking: a $32 billion industry that enslaves 27 million people worldwide–55 of whom are women and children. It’s the fastest-growing criminal industry on the planet.

The travel industry: long an unwitting partner in the human trafficking market. But not if organizations like ECPAT can help it.

ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) is a global NGO devoted to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children, one of the largest sectors of the human trafficking industry. And it doesn’t work alone. EmpireCLS is proud to support ECPAT’s mission, and we were recently named among the 2015 Top Members for The Code, a code of conduct represented by ECPAT that sets out six guidelines for combating commercial sexual exploitation of children.

As a member of the travel industry, EmpireCLS, like all travel and tourism businesses, is in a prime position to halt human trafficking, since traffickers use air transportation, ground transportation, hotels and other travel-based services to covertly transport and abuse victims. Instead of being an unwitting accomplice, we make it our mission to be a conscious, vigilant force in the fight against human trafficking.

Let’s take a look at three other travel industry players who are fighting to make the world a safer place:

Truckers Against Trafficking

This non-profit, begun in 2009, trains truckers to recognize signs of human trafficking and report suspected incidences of exploitation. Truck stops are hotspots for sex trafficking due to their isolated, transient nature, making truckers a key player in stopping the practice.

To combat forced sex work, Truckers Against Trafficking produces anti-trafficking materials for the trucking industry, designed to educate truck drivers on how to identify and report potential trafficking. The organization has teamed up with both law enforcement agencies and trucking companies, leading to the rescue of hundreds of victims. In one case, a trucker’s tip to an anti-trafficking hotline broke up a sex trafficking ring that was operating in 13 states.


Carlson, the Minnesota-based company that owns Radisson Hotels, asserts that as a global company, it is responsible for addressing a global problem. Carlson views the travel industry and its workers as “a virtual army of eyes and ears” that can be trained to watch and listen for signs of illegal activity, and for that reason provides ongoing anti-trafficking training to its employees. Its travel management company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, also educates customers with e-ticket itineraries that include educational material on the sexual exploitation of children.

Additionally, Carlson partners with ECPAT, plus Polaris and Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Along with other global giants like Coca-Cola, Carlson has formed the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking, which educates employees in best practices against trafficking in all industries.

Sabre Holdings

Sabre Holdings is a global travel tech company that serves the travel and tourism industry. Its Passport to Freedom initiative is proof that you don’t have to run a hotel or transport cargo to get directly involved with anti-trafficking efforts. Sabre Holdings has taken it upon itself to train employees, raise awareness with customers, inform travelers on how to identify and report potential trafficking and partner with other organizations that support the abolition of trafficking.

As long as human trafficking exists, there will be people and organizations working to fight it. Learn more about how EmpireCLS and ECPAT have partnered in the fight by visiting http://www.ecpatusa.org/.

Photo: flickr