THE U.S. HOSPITALITY industry’s campaign against human trafficking continued in 2020 as hotel companies and associations recognized National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. That included training and awareness events leading up to the Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 2 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day was Jan. 11, and January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. On Jan. 9, AAHOA, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association held an event in Miami to begin a month-long anti human trafficking campaign as part of AAHOA and AHLA’s joint “No Room for Trafficking” campaign.
“Human trafficking is a deplorable crime that damages and destroys millions of lives. Because of this, the hotel industry is committed to helping lead the way in bringing it to an end,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “We believe it is critical to convene our entire industry around a united approach to combat human trafficking and build partnerships with law enforcement officers and leaders in the prevention space.”
One of those law enforcement partners, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, attended the event along with lawmakers, experts and AAHOA President and CEO Cecil Staton and AAHOA Chairwoman Jagruti Panwala. In a joint statement, Staton and Panwala called human trafficking “a blight on society.”
“Trafficking is one of the ugliest and most despicable crimes in our society. It exploits society’s most vulnerable and destroys lives,” Staton and Panwala said. “Understanding the signs of trafficking and knowing how to respond can be the difference between life and death.”
AAHOA launched its anti-trafficking campaign in 2017 to provide training to members on recognizing the signs of human trafficking. It offers the programs online in partnership with organizations including Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking and Polaris.
Individual hotel companies also train their employees and franchisees on preventing human trafficking, with special focus during January. Intercontinental Hotels Group recognized the day and month with training for its employees, including a special group training and discussion session at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia near the company’s Americas headquarters in Atlanta.
Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp and Mary Frances Bowley, founder and executive director of non-profit human trafficking survivor support group Wellspring Living attended the event.
“At IHG, we condemn human trafficking in all forms, and we are taking a strong stance in partnership with our owners, elected officials and others in the industry,” said IHG CEO for the Americas Elie Maalouf. “We will not tolerate it, or those who would enable it, in the IHG system of hotels, and we are empowering all of our colleagues with the tools, resources and support they need to combat this crime on every level.”
Earlier this month, Aberdeen, South Dakota-based My Place Hotels offered two weeks of training for its employees on preventing human trafficking, also in recognition of to National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.