Chicago Summit Builds on Human Trafficking Awareness Month with Local, National Groups, Illinois Officials
Chicago, Illinois (January 31, 2020) – Building on a wave of events throughout National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the hotel industry is continuing the fight to end human trafficking in Chicago by joining forces with Governor J. B. Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who today are convening lawmakers, local partners, law enforcement and leading experts ahead of the NBA Basketball All-Star game.
This half-day summit with key stakeholders included a training of nearly 500 hotel employees. Due to an influx of visitors during large events, increased instances of human trafficking can occur, which is why the hotel industry is focused on regional training events as part of the No Room for Trafficking campaign’s goal of training every hotel employee to spot and stop trafficking. Today’s event comes on the heels of a half-day summit in Miami ahead of the Super Bowl where the hotel industry brought together the National Football League, elected officials, national and local Florida organizations and human trafficking prevention groups to kick-off a month-long series of events to raise awareness about the scourge of human trafficking which affects 40 million people around the globe.
During the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, local police warned city residents to be on the lookout for trafficking as millions visited the city during NBA All-Star weekend. As part of this month’s awareness activities, AHLA is convening the broader travel community to help raise awareness around this critical issue ahead of the 2020 game in Chicago.
In an effort to help spot and stop traffickers who exploit the travel and tourism industry, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), in partnership with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA), hosted the event which featured a human trafficking prevention training session certifying at least 300 hotel employees and highlighted pivotal partnerships with law enforcement and effective tools that have been implemented to reduce the number of incidents of trafficking in hotels.
“Human Trafficking is a deplorable crime that damages and destroys millions of lives. That’s why we in the hotel industry believe it is critical to organize our entire industry around a united approach to combat human trafficking and build partnerships with law enforcement officers and leaders in the prevention space, including Governor Pritzker, Attorney General Raoul and Mayor Lightfoot,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Our goal is to have every hotel employee in the United States trained on how to spot and stop trafficking, and while there is still much more to do, we believe our shared commitment to training and education will continue to make a difference.”
Already each year, thousands of hotel employees are trained on how to spot and stop trafficking. With the launch of AHLA’s No Room for Trafficking campaign and AAHOA's Human Trafficking Awareness Training, the hotel industry is continuing its strong record by convening the entire industry around the goal of training every hotel worker.
“Human trafficking isn’t something that only happens at global entertainment events or in other countries. This is something that happens to children here in Illinois and across the United States, in communities urban and rural alike, every single day,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “Starting this summer, every employee of an Illinois hotel or motel who interacts with guests will understand their role in the fight to end human trafficking. That’s real progress—but it’s only one step in ending a practice that affects tens of millions of people worldwide. All of the work we do at the state level is only truly effective if everyday Illinoisans are alert and report any signs of human trafficking — and nowhere is this more true than with members of the hotel industry.”
“Hotel employees are uniquely positioned to help identify and prevent this horrible crime, and we take our responsibility to stop human trafficking seriously. That’s why we worked with lawmakers and the governor’s office to put in place a new law that will require hotels across Illinois to train employees on how to recognize human trafficking, including establishing protocols on when to contact law enforcement. This effort will standardize practices already in place across the state, ensuring continued cooperation with officials to put an end to this crime, support victims and bring traffickers to justice,” said IHLA President and CEO Michael Jacobson.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul said, “Coordination between law enforcement and the private sector is essential to ensure that instances of suspected trafficking are identified and properly reported. My office is proud to assist in the effort to end human trafficking and promote awareness within the industry across Illinois. The hotel industry’s leadership through training and streamlining reporting mechanisms will help turn the tide in this important fight.”
“No resident should ever have to live in fear, and I commend hotel industry leaders for convening this important event to raise awareness and develop solutions to address this critical challenge in one of Chicago’s most vibrant industries,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Human trafficking exists because poverty exists, and I look forward to working with industry leaders, elected officials, community organizations, and law enforcement agencies in doing all we can to reach every exploited individual and bring them out of the shadows of society.”
“America’s hotel owners are committed partners in the fight against trafficking. AAHOA, AHLA, and our state partners at IHLA work hard to help our members understand the signs of trafficking, but training is only one part of the fight. It is imperative that we forge strong and constructive partnerships with lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. We all have the same objectives, but collaboration is key to ensuring that we’re working together as effectively as possible to keep trafficking out of our hotels and our communities and to save lives,” said AAHOA President and CEO Cecil Staton.
“We are proud to partner with AHLA on their No Room for Trafficking campaign, a united effort by the hotel industry to make hotels inhospitable to traffickers. Their leadership within the travel sector is important for us as the eminent organization partnering with legislators and the corporate community to eradicate exploitation,” said ECPAT-USA Executive Director Lori Cohen. “We support the industry’s efforts to make training mandatory and will continue to work together to ensure that no child is ever again bought, sold or used for sex.”
As National Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to an end, AHLA will continue efforts to raise public awareness and facilitate collaboration with policymakers, law enforcement and hoteliers on best practices for policies, procedures and training to enhance our human trafficking prevention efforts throughout 2020. January’s activities will be the first of many during this year’s No Room for Trafficking push. Already this year, AHLA has highlighted the industry’s on-going efforts with targeted events in Florida, Massachusetts and West Virginia and will continue holding events across the county in states including Arizona, Nevada, Delaware, California, Rhode Island, Maryland, and more. We will also be working with key states to advance legislation at the state level and continue to provide our members and industry with on-going support and resources. We will continue to grow and enhance the industry’s efforts with partnerships and member engagement.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the sole national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry and contributes nearly $660 billion to U.S. GDP. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support and workforce development programs to move the industry forward. Every day, America’s hotels make dreams come true, not just for our guests, but also for the 8.3 million people whose jobs we support—more than 1 in every 25 American jobs. Learn more at www.ahla.com.