US travel and tourism companies recognized for efforts to protect children


NEW YORK, New York – Top Member companies from around the world are
recognized for their “exceptional work to integrate child protection practices into their businesses.” 19 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 implement to comprehensively and proactively combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In order for a company to be recognized as a Top Member, companies must implement all six of The Code criteria within their business operations and reported publicly on TheCode.Org website.

“This year’s group of Top Members continuously drive change in the tourism industry to raise awareness and combat human trafficking and child exploitation,” said Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement of ECPAT-USA. “Each company cares deeply about this issue and takes their implementation of The Code very seriously.
Without strong public private partnerships, we would not be able to do the work we do.”

The 19 United States 2015 Top Members are:

Adventure Travel Trade Association (trade association)
Altruvistas (tour operator)
Caribe Royale Orlando (hotel)
Carlson (hotel brand)
CorpTrav Management (travel management)*
EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services (ground transportation)*
Envision Meetings & Incentives (meeting & events)
Hilton Worldwide (hotel brand)
Hospitality eResources (hospitality consulting)
International Tour Management Institute (educational institute)
Lotus Nomads (responsible travel booking)*
Martiz Travel (travel management)*
Meaningful Trip (tour operator)
Meeting Professionals International – WA State Chapter (trade association)*
Nix Conference & Meeting Management (meeting & events)
Platinum Travel & Events (meeting professionals)
Real Hospitality Group (hotel management)
Sabre (global distributing system)
Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (trade association)*

* companies newly promoted to Top Member status

The most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. 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 for exploitation, 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. The companies shared their reaction to being named 2015 Top Members:

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Shannon Stowell, President:

We believe that every travel company should be a member of The Code. Why? Because the insidious nature of child trafficking will only be stopped or severely stunted if everyone puts a shoulder to the wheel! The Code is that wheel and the ATTA offers
many shoulders.

Altruvistas, Malia Everette, CEO & Founder:

By signing The Code and supporting the education and advocacy efforts of ECPAT, Altruvistas is taking a proactive stand in the efforts to end sexual exploitation in the tourism industry. We recognize that we have a practical and moral obligation to support our staff, partners around the globe, and each of our travelers to travel consciously.

Carlson Hospitality Group, David P. Berg, CEO:

Since signing The Code in 2004, Carlson has continuously looked for new ways to expand our commitment to this cause throughout our business. Recognition as a Top Member is validation of these efforts, but more importantly, offers a platform to share our experience and best practices with other companies joining the fight.

CorpTrav, Bonnie Lorefice, CEO:

As mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons, we cannot fathom the horrors of a child being forced to live their lives in such deplorable conditions and in constant fear. The entire CorpTrav organization has committed to joining the fight to help end human trafficking.

EmpireCLS, David Seelinger, Chairman & CEO:

As the first global ground transportation provider to join The Code, EmpireCLS is honored to be recognized as one of its newest Top Members. We look forward to building upon our successes of raising awareness within our industry through continued training and education about this extremely important issue.

Hilton Worldwide, Maxime Verstraete, VP of Corporate Responsibility:

As one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, Hilton is committed to preventing child trafficking and sexual exploitation by partnering with government and nongovernment organizations and committing to ECPAT’s Code. We have implemented programs to educate and empower Team Members and business partners to identify,
manage and take appropriate action. Since 2014 more than 60,000 Hilton Team Members have been trained and more than 1,500 at-risk children have been directly reached through Hilton’s efforts.

Hospitality eResources, LLC, Evelyne S. Oreskovich President & CEO:

Our membership in The Code is one of the most important of our company’s relationships. As a woman owned and run company in the travel space, we have important role to play in highlighting the issue and ensure our clients are educated on what to watch for and how to act.

International Tour Management Institute (ITMI), Joan Keddell, VP:

Each time we teach human trafficking awareness to a new class, it is astonishing to learn how few people understand that this is a global epidemic and that it can happen right in front of us. We are gratified to know that as Top Members of The Code we can contribute to the important work of helping to eradicate this horrific crime.

LOTUS Nomads, Arati Sureddi, Founder:

LOTUS Nomads is excited to be recognized as a Top Member of The Code for our work in addressing human trafficking within travel and tourism and we look forward to further using the platform to create even more impact.

Maritz Global Events, Mary Anne Zoldak, SVP of People & Development:

We are honored to be recognized as a Top Member of The Code. Our partnership with ECPAT-USA has enabled us to be a strong voice in the fight against human trafficking within the meetings and events industry. We know there is still much work to be done, but we are building a strong foundation of awareness among our employees and our
partners that is quickly turning into action.

Meaningful Trip, Joe Staiano, Founder:

Meaningful Trip is happy to be a member of The Code and pleased to see a raise in global awareness of the problem of trafficking and exploitation. Though, there is still so much more to continue to do. Thank you and blessings to ECPAT, and to all those who work tirelessly to fight trafficking and exploitation.

Meeting Professionals International – WA State Chapter, Lesley Young Cutler, CMP VP Finance:

MPIWSC is proud to be a Top Member of The Code. We value our partnership with ECPAT tremendously as we continue to bring awareness and education to our membership and the broader travel community. Many of our members have taken the issue to their own organizations and are conducting seminars, adopting policies and implementing training to help fight this horrific crime.

Nix Conference & Meeting Management, Jane Quinn, Principal:

We’re proud to once again be named a Top Member of The Code by ECPAT-USA the same week we launched our new TraffickCam smartphone app, which enables any traveler to make a difference in the fight against sex trafficking. We appreciate our ongoing partnership with ECPAT-USA, which protects every child’s basic human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Platinum Travel & Events, Tamra Sipes, Owner:

I feel strongly that in order to make a difference we need to constantly be aware of what is going on in our industry, good and bad. We have to find ways to educate our own in order to make a change and by being a member of The Code we are working towards that change.

Real Hospitality Group, Ben Seidel, President & CEO:

Real Hospitality Group is committed to doing all it can within our sphere of influence to end the sexual exploitation of children. We are committed wholeheartedly towards this cause as Top Members of The Code. Our associates are in a unique position to be able to identify victims and alert authorities. It is important to us to work with ECPAT-USA to develop and implement complete training for all associates not only within New York City but across our portfolio in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Sabre, Bruce Charendoff, Sabre SVP, Government & External Affairs:

Sabre is proud to be recognized as a Top Member of ECPAT’s Code. ECPAT’s important work has changed the lives of children around the globe. Sabre is committed to continuing that work in partnership with ECPAT and commends all the organizations being recognized for their efforts to end human trafficking.

Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Rhonda Brewer, SITE Immediate Past-President & VP of Sales, Maritz Travel Company:

This is an amazing honor for SITE to be recognized as a Top Member of The Code. Since signing The Code, we have worked hard with ECPAT, our SITE members and within our communities around the world to raise awareness of human trafficking and the devastating effects it has on victims. This year and going forward, our focus is on ‘turning awareness into action’ by educating individuals and organizations on how to recognize the signs and report suspicious activity, as well as sharing ways that SITE Chapters can support human trafficking victims in their community. There is still a lot of work to do but SITE is committed to making a difference.

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