July 28, 2010: Final Results of CBIS' World Cup Initiatives
In April, 2010, approximately 300 CBIS participants, socially responsible investors, and faith-based organizations sent a letter to the following hotels with chains in South Africa to learn about actions being taken to combat child sexual exploitation in advance of The World Cup.
- Accor (brands include Formule1, Mercure, Motel6)
- Best Western
- NH Hoteles
- Carlson (brands include Radisson, Country Inn & Suites; shareholder of Rezidor Hotel Group in South Africa)
- InterContinental (brands include Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza)
- Starwood (brands include Westin, Sheraton)
Events like The World Cup, which attracted a half-million visitors to South Africa, have the potential to be accompanied by an increase in human trafficking. According to the United Nations, an estimated 12 million people are victims of trafficking and children are the most vulnerable, primarily through prostitution and sex tourism. While not directly responsible for these crimes, the lodging industry is well-positioned to help prevent them by taking steps to stop the use of their hotels for these purposes.
Click here to download the full CBIS report on this initiative with recommendations and analysis of hotel policies, programs and practices to address child sexual exploitation.
Click here for a summary of responses from Accor, Carlson/Rezidor and NH Hoteles.
Click here to view the responses from hotels gathered by The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, which picked up the story about CBIS’ initiative with our June 1st press release and invited the companies that had not responded or had responded inadequately at that time to do so.
We thank the hotels for responding to our letter. There was a wide range of responses from the hotel chains and these responses reflected the disparity between industry leaders and laggards on this issue.
To follow are the major findings from the CBIS report on hotels’ efforts to combat child sexual exploitation:
- We were pleased that Hyatt, Accor, Carlson, and NH Hoteles took action to address human trafficking and combat child sexual exploitation in South Africa. While NH and Hyatt informed staff in South Africa about the issue, it was disappointing that InterContinental, Best Western, Starwood, and Hilton did not mention taking action in South Africa to increase awareness among staff about human trafficking.
- Accor and Carlson/Rezidor were most active and the only hotels with a systematic approach to address human trafficking with robust and substantive programs and policies to address child sexual exploitation. When evaluating your travel or conference needs, you may want to consider these hotel chains and let them know that you considered their policies on this issue when choosing a hotel.
- We applaud NH Hoteles, Accor, and Carlson for endorsing the tourism code of conduct against child sexual exploitation known as The Code - - the only three hotel chains out of the eight evaluated to sign this industry-wide tool for facilitating the protection of children’s rights.
- Only three hotels have an overall and comprehensive human rights policy that specifically addresses child protections - - Starwood, Accor and Carlson. We were dissatisfied that Best Western, Hyatt, and Hilton lack human rights policies or programs on the issue.
- Most of the hotel chains have philanthropic programs with a focus on children. For example, Hyatt participates in the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) that promotes youth engagement, education and development opportunities while Best Western has partnered with World Vision, a global relief agency, to alleviate child poverty. While not a substitute for a focused program to combat human trafficking, philanthropy can provide needed funds to important causes.
CBIS and the letter’s signatories are interested not only in hotels signing The Code and addressing human trafficking in advance of the World Cup, but also taking steps on an ongoing basis throughout their operations around the globe. As shareholders in and frequent guests at several of these companies' hotels, we view their commitment to train, report, work with governments and social service organizations, and craft policies as important elements to reduce risk, demonstrate corporate responsibility, and improve operations. CBIS will continue our outreach to these and other hotels in order to reduce the likelihood of incidents of child sex tourism occurring in hotels.
We also continue to raise awareness of these important issues. Several articles have been published recently that mention human trafficking and CBIS' efforts with hotels as well as recent reports on the issue:
- Institute for Human Rights and Business, “World Cup, South Africa 2010 – facing up to responsibilities,” by Steve Ouma, 6/15/2010
- CatholicExchange.com, "The World Cup and the Fight Against Human Trafficking," by Julie Tanner, 6/12/2010
- The Christian Post, "Christians Wary of Human Trafficking ahead of World Cup," by Wesley W.J. Richards, 06/01/2010
- The Catholic Sun, "Hotels Urged to Keep Eye on Human Trafficking During World Cup," By Mark Pattison, 05/25/2010
- The U.S. State Department 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report - an annual worldwide report on human trafficking, 6/2010
Below is a summary of responses received by CBIS from Accor, Carlson and NH Hoteles.
ACCOR: Accor’s robust and substantive response is an example for the tourism industry to emulate and confirms the company’s leadership on this issue. Accor has adopted the tourism code of conduct against child sex tourism, The Code, and sits on its board. The company has an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children and has introduced a clause in contracts with suppliers stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Last year alone, Accor informed CBIS they had trained 13,000 employees about human trafficking. Related to South Africa, Accor has conducted refresher training for 85 employees and 24 business partners. Accor Hospitality Southern Africa generously made its own, internal training materials available to the non-profit Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) so that they may be adapted for use by fellow signatories to The Code in South Africa. Accor has more than 20 hotels in South Africa and 4000 hotels worldwide under the brands Motel6, Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, and ibis. Read the letter from Accor here.
CARLSON: Carlson is also very active on human trafficking and has the important distinction of being the only major U.S chain to adopt The Code, the tourism code of conduct protecting children from sex tourism. Carlson has an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children and has introduced a clause in contracts with suppliers stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children. The company’s Chair, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, is a frequent speaker on the topic, sharing Carlson’s experience in engaging against human trafficking and child sex tourism. Carlson, with 1000 hotels in 150 countries under brands including Radisson and Country Inns & Suites, trains every new employee on the issue and provides refresher training annually. Carlson is majority shareholder of The Rezidor Hotel Group, which operates in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Rezidor trains employees to identify human trafficking and how to report an incident. They have provided staff in South Africa with red cards with important telephone numbers of child protection agencies that can be contacted if an employee suspects a child is at risk. See Rezidor's press release on this initiative here.
NH HOTELES: NH, with 394 hotels in Europe, America and Africa, has informed CBIS that it plans to instruct the directors of their two South African hotels to inform all employees of the initiative and the protocol to avoid any possible violation of human rights. Read the letter from NH Hoteles here.
Remember, when you stay at a hotel, be sure to give a letter to the front desk to share your concerns about human trafficking (download a Word document here). Just fill in your name and address and provide it at check-in. With this action, we can encourage hotels to create policies to protect the rights of children, develop training programs to help staff be alert to potential instances of abuse, and share information about a common framework used by many members of the tourism industry. Please let us know when you use this letter and if you receive a response. Email us at: SRIACTION@CBISONLINE.COM.
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