Skip to main content

Human Trafficking and the Hotel Industry 


Human trafficking is a grave human rights violation and an illicit activity that can occur in various industries, including the hotel industry. Instances of human trafficking within hotels typically come to light through legal cases and law enforcement investigations. These cases shed light on the presence of trafficking within the hotel industry and the need for collaborative efforts to raise awareness, prevent trafficking, and support victims across all industries and settings. 

Hotels, motels, and resorts can inadvertently become venues for sex trafficking due to their transient nature, offering a discreet and temporary location for illegal activities. Traffickers may exploit the privacy and anonymity provided by hotels, making it easier for them to control victims and conduct their operations. The hospitality industry’s broad customer base, which includes both legitimate travelers and those involved in illicit activities, can also contribute to the presence of sex trafficking. 

To combat sex trafficking, many hotels have implemented training programs for staff members to recognize and report potential cases. Collaboration with local law enforcement, NGOs, and anti-trafficking organizations is crucial to raise awareness, share information, and support victims. 

There are several organizations that focus on combating sex trafficking in the hotel industry. These organizations work to raise awareness, provide training, develop resources, and collaborate with hotels to address the issue effectively: 

American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA): AHLA is a prominent trade association representing the hotel industry in the United States. The AHLA has taken initiatives to address the issue of sex trafficking in the hotel industry and have developed resources and training programs to educate hotel staff and raise awareness about the signs of sex trafficking. These efforts aim to empower hotel employees to identify and report potential cases of trafficking, ensuring the safety and well-being of guests and potential victims. The AHLA provides guidelines and best practices to hotels on implementing policies and procedures to combat sex trafficking. They encourage hotels to display awareness materials, establish protocols for reporting suspicious activities, and collaborate with local law enforcement and anti-trafficking organizations. 

ECPAT International (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking): ECPAT is a global network of organizations dedicated to combating the sexual exploitation of children. They work with governments, businesses, and communities to raise awareness, conduct research, and provide training to prevent child trafficking and protect children in the travel and tourism industry, including hotels. 

Polaris: Polaris operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the United States and works to combat all forms of human trafficking, including sex trafficking. They collaborate with various sectors, including the hospitality industry, to identify and respond to instances of trafficking. Polaris provides training, resources, and support to hotel staff to recognize and report trafficking situations. 

Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST): BEST is a nonprofit organization that partners with businesses to create strategies and programs to combat human trafficking. They offer training and awareness programs specifically designed for the hotel industry, equipping hotel employees with the tools to identify and respond to instances of trafficking. 

The Code (short for The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism): The Code is an industry-driven initiative that encourages hotels and other stakeholders in the tourism industry to take measures to prevent child exploitation and trafficking. By signing The Code, companies commit to implementing policies and training programs to protect children from sexual exploitation. 

These are just a few examples of organizations dedicated to combating sex trafficking in the hotel industry. The landscape of anti-trafficking organizations is continually evolving, and many other local and regional organizations also work tirelessly to raise awareness, provide training, and support victims. Collaboration between these organizations, hotels, law enforcement agencies, and governments is crucial to effectively address the issue of sex trafficking and protect vulnerable individuals. 

Contact us at The Woolf Group (TWG) to learn more about how we are helping hoteliers make their voices heard, raising awareness of this issue, and partnering with the anti-trafficking organizations working in this space. 


By Cindy Johnson, TWG Research Specialist & Strategy Consultant