ECPAT-USA and AltruVistas Join Forces to End Sexual Exploitation of Children, One Journey at a Time

Announcement comes just in time for the United Nations’ World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30


Brooklyn, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/28/2016 -- AltruVistas, a San Francisco Bay Area leader of socially responsible tourism, together with anti-trafficking policy organization ECPAT-USA, are partnering to lead a tourism initiative that goes beyond the journey. This Thailand journey focuses on giving participants a glimpse at how modern day travel is combating modern day slavery and ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

"The journey gives participants an educative perspective about the issue of human trafficking," remarked Sarah Porter, ECPAT-USA's director of development and partnerships. This trip is open to participants who want to learn more about the issue, while focusing on socially responsible travel and tourism. The journey will include visiting ECPAT International's headquarters, based in Bangkok where participants will gain an invaluable perspective on the issue of sex trafficking and exploitation.

Participants begin their journey by meeting with advocates from other organizations, international aid groups, and policy makers to develop a better understanding of the scope of the issue, along with the socio-economic factors that contribute to sex trafficking and exploitation in Thailand. The itinerary highlights the progress being made on the ground and the work of the NGO sector, such as vocational training, public awareness campaigns, and other preventative services. Additionally, the journey will include several cultural excursions and travel to the beautiful countrysides of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The trip is geared towards travelers who want a more purposeful and educative travel experience.

"We're excited to offer people from all walks of life a socially responsible trip that provides them with an opportunity to experience Thailand in a way that's meaningful, enjoyable and educational," said Porter. Last year, Maritz Travel sent two employees on this same journey to Thailand as part of its ongoing commitment to the cause. "The more people that become aware of this situation, the more people that are educated to see the signs and to know that this happens everywhere you go, the better we're going to be able to fight it", said Laura Pilkington, Manager of Guest Services, for Maritz.

According to Janet Nester, Meeting and Event Manager, the group met with administrators who were working directly with these people. "What we heard were personal stories of why people came to fight for this cause," she added.

When asked why he chose to send two employees to Thailand, Maritz Travel CEO David Peckinpaugh responded " have our staff members serve as catalysts for change." According to Peckinpaugh, by giving his employees the experience, they are able to share their stories, thus helping bring the issue even more to life. "It's amazing to me how many people and organizations are not aware of the extent of human trafficking. It's not a Thailand issue — it's a U.S. issue, a St. Louis issue, a Chicago issue, a New York issue. It's in your backyard."

Advocacy tour operator, Altruvistas, signed the ECPAT Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct, an internationally recognized set of guidelines travel and tourism companies can sign to demonstrate their commitment to fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Altruvistas founder Malia Everette explains, "For those of us with open eyes and a social advocacy lens, it is impossible not to acknowledge the real and horrific underbelly inherent in the tourism industry. By signing The Code, Altruvistas is taking a proactive stand. We recognize that we have an obligation to support each traveler to travel consciously."

For more information about this journey or for more on ethical travel opportunities, visit or

About Altruvistas
Altruvistas supports and promotes sustainable philanthropic tourism to benefit livelihoods, support local communities and conserve the world's natural and cultural heritage. Its staff is made up of experienced travel professionals with a shared commitment to sustainability and a passion to ensure the benefits of responsible tourism globally.

ECPAT International is a network comprised of over 80 organizations, represented in 74 countries and recognized as one of the primary organizations focused on ending child exploitation. ECPAT-USA is the American affiliate of the international ECPAT network, working to create a world where no child is bought, sold, or used for sex. ECPAT-USA undertakes policy and legislative advocacy, private sector engagement, research, training, and raising awareness about the issue of children being commercially sexually exploited here in the US.