OLYMPIA, WASH.—A powerful solution to end human trafficking is proving to be effective inside Washington state hotels—when staff members are trained in what to look for.
The Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation is partnering with the nonprofit Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST) to increase access to human trafficking awareness training for the state’s hotel employees.
Starting this month, which is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, BEST’s training will be offered to the 6,500 Washington Hospitality Association members and their teams free of charge.
Washington is Leader in Trafficking Prevention
Both the association and BEST participate in the Washington State Task Force Against the Trafficking of Persons, and both organizations have been instrumental in positioning Washington state as a national leader in human trafficking prevention.
Human trafficking networks rely on legitimate businesses, like hotels, to sustain their operations and infrastructure. BEST reports employees who have frequent contact with hotel guests are in a unique position to spot the warning signs of human trafficking when they are trained in what to look for.
“We are woven into the fabric of the daily lives of our guests and team members,” said Anthony Anton, President and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Assn. “As a result, hospitality industry leaders are recognizing the important role we play in preventing and ending this crime. Hotels take profound pride and responsibility in serving and protecting all guests.”
Start as Young as 13 to 15
American youth are being exploited by human trafficking, said Mar Brettmann, PhD, Executive Director for BEST. The typical age of entry for youth into the sex trade is 13 to 15 years old, and many trafficking victims are runaway teens or survivors of other forms of abuse.
“When hotel employees are trained to recognize and report potential human trafficking situations, it can make all the difference in the life of someone who is being trafficked,” Brettmann said. “For this reason, BEST is thrilled to announce our new partnership with the Washington Hospitality Association. This partnership will allow us to train thousands of hotel employees in Washington, and it will make our region even more proactive in preventing human trafficking.”
BEST’s program is a 30-minute training that can be taken by individual hotel employees or in a larger group setting. The training is available in English or Spanish, and it has been proven to increase hotel employee reporting.
To learn more or participate in training, visit wahospitality.org/best/.