The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently announced the formation of a global taskforce to help prevent and combat human trafficking - an illicit activity that affects 30 million victims worldwide and relies on travel networks to operate.
The taskforce comprises WTTC members and sector associations.
As an "industry", human trafficking is worth $150bn annually, and contributes heavily to modern slavery, in which 40 million people worldwide are entrapped.
One-quarter of trafficking victims worldwide are children. Meanwhile, 19% of victims are trafficked for sexual purposes, which makes up 66% of the illicit income generated.
The WTTC taskforce has been established for the purposes of increasing industry and consumer awareness of human trafficking; to train employees and travellers on how to identify and report suspected cases; to encourage governments to enact legislation which recognises human trafficking as a crime throughout the entire chain; and develop resources and support needed such as national hotlines; and to provide assistance, employability training and employment opportunities to survivors.
The founding members of the taskforce are Airbnb, Amex GBT, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, Ctrip.com International, CWT, Emirates, Expedia Group, Hilton, JTB Corp, Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority, Marriott International, Silversea, Thomas Cook and TUI.
Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC, said human trafficking is a devastating, widespread and critical issue that unfortunately relies on travel and tourism networks to operate.
"As a sector, we must do everything in our power to help eradicate the problem so that people may move freely and safely across the globe, but never coerced," she said.
"I am proud to today launch this vital taskforce comprised of the world’s most powerful travel leaders from across hotels, retail, airlines, cruise, technology, finance and destination management, and are wholly committed to preventing trafficking, protecting victims, supporting survivors and engaging with governments so that this pandemic ends once and for all."
The WTTC also launched its Global Best Practices Recognition Initiative to equip tourism ministers, sector leaders and policymakers worldwide with the insights to develop and implement proven policies in the sector.
Travel & Tourism is one of the most dynamic economic sectors in the world, representing 10.4% of global GDP, 1 in 10 jobs on the planet (319 million) and 6.5% of global exports in 2018.
Given its forecasted growth and its ability to drive job creation, reduce poverty, foster regional integration and connect people across the world.
Travel and tourism is, therefore, in a unique position to make a difference, providing opportunities for developing and emerging nations to move up the value chain.
Yet, despite the sector’s ability to be a force for good, best practices across travel and tourism are not readily available for both the public and private sector, often compelling governments to unnecessarily reinvent the wheel, researching solutions to problems that have already been successfully innovated on elsewhere in the world.