Brooklyn, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/22/2014 -- The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) announced their 2014 Top Members list. These 43 companies from around the world are recognized for their “exceptional work to integrate child protection practices into their businesses.” 13 of the companies are based in the United States and are guided through their membership and implementation with the support of Local Code Representative, ECPAT-USA.
The Code is a set of six voluntary guidelines that travel and tourism companies can implement to prevent and responds to incidences of child sexual exploitation. In order for a company to be recognized as a 2014 Top Member, companies must implement all six of The Code criteria within their business operations and reported publicly on TheCode.Org website.
“The thirteen US Top Members for 2014 are true leaders of child protection in tourism, said Andreas Astrup, General Manager of The Code. “Their commitment to keeping children safe coupled with ECPAT-USA's tireless efforts representing The Code in the United States, has helped to raise the profile of the crime of child sex tourism both within the tourism industry and among the wider traveling public.”
The 13 United States 2014 Top Members are:
- Adventure Travel Trade Association (travel trade association)
- Altruvistas (tour operator)
- Caribe Royale Orlando (hotel)
- Carlson (hotel brand)
- Envision Meetings & Incentives (meeting professionals)
- Hilton Worldwide (hotel brand)
- Hospitality Evolution Resources (hospitality consulting)
- International Tour Management Institute (educational institute)
- Meaningful Trip (tour operator)
- Nix Conference & Meeting Management (meeting professionals)
- Platinum Travel & Events (meeting professionals)
- Real Hospitality Group (hotel management company)
- Sabre (global distributing system)
In the United States alone at least 100,000 American children are trafficked within US borders and another 200,000–300,000 at risk each year. Globally, there are 21 million people around the world enslaved. The travel and tourism industry is in a unique position to identify victims because traffickers move across cities and countries using air and ground transportation companies. Hotels often serve as venues to abuse victims, without the knowledge of owners. The Code was launched in the United States in 2004 to guide the industry with their efforts to address this issue.
“This has been a great year for innovative implementation of The Code,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA. “Companies often go beyond their original action plans and create unique ways to use their resources to protect children.” Many of the 2014 Top Members are equally proud of their efforts:
Adventure Travel Trade Association: “We believe that tourism should always be a positive contributor to destinations and that includes the influence tourism has on the livelihoods of the local people,” said Shannon Stowell, President of ATTA. “And, since theCode.org has set the standard for the protection of children, we feel that all tourism organizations and companies should participate in the standard.”
Altruvistas: "By signing The Code and partnering with ECPAT Altruvistas is taking a proactive stand," said Malia Everette CEO and Founder of AltruVistas. "From our USA headquarters and our incredible staff around the world, to our partners and travelers all aware of The Code as part of our Code of Conduct. This is a way we can contribute along will a larger community to educate and advocate. At Altruvistas, no matter what the theme or purpose of our client’s journeys we recognize we have an obligation to support each traveler to travel consciously."
Caribe Royale: “We are proud to have earned Top Member status to The Code in our first year of membership,” said Donna Smithberger, Director of Human Resources for Caribe Royale. “As a member hotel we take our leadership role very seriously with both our employees and our guests. Through education and awareness we continue to fight every day to end Child Slavery and Sex trafficking in our corner of the World.”
Carlson: “Carlson is proud to be the first North American travel and hospitality company to sign the Code of Conduct back in 2004,” said Brenda Schultz, director, Responsible Business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “Our company has long supported and been a leader in the travel and tourism industry on the End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) Code of Conduct to protect children against sexual exploitation.”
Envision Meetings & Incentives, Inc.: “The meeting industry is in a unique position to train its employees, buyers and attendees on how to recognize the signs and report this horrible abuse of children," said Lesley Young Cutler, Owner of Envision Meetings & Incentives, Inc. "Once you realize how prevalent this issue is - that it’s right in front of us, potentially even in our meetings and events - it’s impossible to sit back and do nothing.”
Hilton Worldwide: “Hilton Worldwide believes strongly in ECPAT’s important mission to protect children from sexual exploitation and to bring greater attention and action to the issues surrounding child trafficking,” said Jennifer Silberman, vice president, corporate responsibility, Hilton Worldwide. “As a Top Member Code signatory, we will continue to do our part to train and educate our Team Members, guests and business partners on the steps we all can take to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children.”
Hospitality Evolution Resources: “Hospitality Evolution Resources is proud to support The Code and all it stands for,” said Evelyne Oreskovich, CEO of Hospitality Evolution Resources. “We encourage all of our hospitality and travel clients to become involved and even offer training to property level teams about what to be aware of in regards to child protection in tourism.”
International Tour Management Institute: “By becoming a signatory to The Code, ITMI and its sister company SilverLining Cruises and Tours, can create greater awareness within the tourism industry and support ECPAT in its mission to eradicate this horrific crime against humanity,” states ITMI Vice President Joan Keddell.
Sabre: “Sabre is honored to once again be chosen as a Top Member,” said Cristina P. Scott, Chairperson, Sabre Passport to Freedom. “As we continue to grow our understanding of this global problem, we are even more committed to educating, advocating and collaborating throughout our network of travel and technology providers to be part of the solution.”
For the full article about the 2014 Top Members, click here.
ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 73 countries. For more information, visit www.ecpatusa.org. For more information about becoming a member of the Code, please contact: Michelle Guelbart 718.935.9192 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Code
The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) is an industry-driven corporate responsible tourism initiative that provides awareness, tools and support to tourism companies in order to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. Tourism companies that join The Code agree to take six steps that turn child protection principles into concrete operational procedures that can help keep children safe. Visit www.thecode.org.