Travel representatives unite against human trafficking at UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Representatives from across the travel and tourism industry came together at the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva to call for collaborative actions to end human trafficking, forced labour and the sexual exploitation of children and share their initiatives that tackle key challenges associated with human rights issues.

The United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights was the first time the sector has gathered to discuss possible solutions to these shared challenges before a United Nations audience.  

The travel and tourism industry has rapidly expanded in recent years, with international tourist arrivals increasing from 528 million in 2005 to 1,323 million in 2017.

At the meeting, experts from non-profit organisations stood shoulder to shoulder with senior leaders from global travel and tourism companies, united in their shared commitment to tackling these crimes which have a direct impact on the tourism industry.

Madhu Rajesh, Director of ITP said, “ITP convenes the world’s leading hotel groups for collaborative action on these critical human rights issues, and in doing so we create practical tools and programmes that help the hotel industry as a whole move further and faster than they can be working individually. For example, we’ve united our membership around support for ITP’s Principles on Forced Labour, and encourage their adoption by the wider industry. Through our work, we aim to convene key stakeholders from the public and private sector and encourage cross-sector collaboration on this vital issue.”

“As the reach of global tourism expands, so too do opportunities for those who travel to harm children by sexually exploiting them,” said Theo Noten, Programme Manager, ECPAT Netherlands. “The travel and tourism industry have a key role to play in keeping children safe. Together with business leaders, especially from the travel industry, we call upon the private sector and governments to protect children and meet the commitments made to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. No child should be left behind!”

Helen Marano, Executive Vice-President, External Affairs, WTTC said, “As a global Council which represents all of the segments of the Travel & Tourism sector, we are proud to be leading the path forward for the broader industry’s commitment to the intolerance of all aspects of human trafficking. We will highlight the key efforts being conducted by members of our Council as a way for others to commit, engage and strengthen the ability of Travel and Tourism to tackle this challenge and eradicate child sexual exploitation.”