Marriott is among the first tourism companies to partner with a new global campaign aimed at raising awareness about the most common illicit goods and services that tourists might be exposed to while traveling.
The “Your Actions Count — Be a Responsible Traveler” campaign provides guidance for travelers to recognize possible situations of trafficking in persons, wildlife, cultural artifacts, illicit drugs and counterfeit goods, and invites them to take action through responsible consumer choices, such as alerting the proper authorities to situations. A central focus of the initiative will be reaching out to young people, spreading the anti-trafficking message to future generations of travelers, Marriott says.
“We know that our industry can play an important role in helping to stop trafficking by delivering this campaign message to the traveling public,” said Kathleen Matthews, Marriott’s Executive Vice President and Chief Global Communications and Public Affairs Officer. “Marriott will share it with more than 80 million customers annually through reservation confirmation emails and our workforce in more than 70 countries worldwide.”
The campaign was developed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and officially launched this week in Berlin during the International Tourism Bourse (ITB).
Marriott says it has taken a firm stance against human trafficking and the exploitation of children for decades. The company publishes its human rights policy and provides training on human rights, including the protection of children, for all associates worldwide.
The Global Slavery Index 2013 estimates that there are now as many as 29.8 million people in modern slavery globally, including those forced to work through trafficking, debt bondage, forced marriage or intimidation. The Index estimates that there are at least 4,200 modern slaves in the UK alone, with particular prevalence in the agricultural/food and construction sectors. In October, the Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose joined forces with the "Stronger Together" initiative to tackle the issue of modern-day slavery, human trafficking, forced labor and other hidden migrant worker exploitation in the food and agriculture industries. The program is designed to equip UK employers with the knowledge and resources to recognize and tackle exploitation.
In other Marriott news, last fall the hotel chain joined more than a dozen corporations and NGOs in a five-year commitment to expand its engagement with female-owned businesses outside the United States, especially in emerging economies. Working with WEConnect International and Vital Voices, two prominent NGOs that support and promote the economic potential of women, Marriott will help to train 15,000 female business owners and spend $1.5 billion with their companies by 2018.
In its 2013 Sustainability Report update, Marriott said it is looking to move beyond mitigating its current global footprint and focus on providing sustainable economic activity and local employment. In coming years, more than half of its new hotels will be located in emerging markets, where tourism is a major driver of new jobs and economic development.