In May of this year, BEST and the Washington Lodging Association co-hosted the first Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training in Washington State. The response by the community was outstanding, with over 100 leaders in attendance from the lodging industry, law enforcement, and victim services.
In September, BEST and the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau offered our second training and had 65 stakeholders in attendance! We are on schedule to host Inhospitable to Trafficking Training events in 3 additional counties within the next few months.
WHY THE LODGING INDUSTRY?
In a study of police reports of 67 human-trafficking related cases prosecuted in King County between October 2008 and January 2012, 63% of the reports cite hotels and/or motels as locations where the crimes took place. Seventy-two percent of the victims named in these cases were children.
The training is one part of a broader project that aims to see lodging employees working actively to prevent sex trafficking in their facilities by collaborating with law enforcement to accomplish the following:
The hotel owners and managers who attend are provided with resources to take back and train their own staff.
Of hotel managers/owners in attendance at our King County training, only 3 said that they had received human trafficking training from their brands in the past.
Ninety-six percent of managers/owners said that they would train their employees to identify and prevent sex trafficking in their hotels as a result of the training!
After our training, one hotel manager offered to allow law enforcement to do a sting operation in his hotel and several adult survivors of prostitution were identified. Because the average age of entry into prostitution is somewhere between 12-15 years old, most prostituted adults started in the life as victims of trafficking and face serious barriers to exiting the life as adults.
Victim advocates who participated in the operation told the women to contact them if they needed help. A week later, one of the women called and said she had been beaten by her pimp one too many times and she wanted help getting out. The hotel manager played a key role in helping this woman escape her pimp.
BEST is so grateful to the stakeholders who are collaborating to identify and prevent this horrific crime against children, women, and sometimes other men.