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March 14, 2011
Delta Is First Major Airline to Sign Code to Combat Child Sex Tourism
    by Robert Kropp

ECPAT-USA announces that airline has joined almost 1,000 global companies in signing commitment to protect children from sexual exploitation in the travel and tourism industries.

When Carol Smolenski, the Executive Director of ECPAT-USA, talked with in 2009 about the organization's efforts to persuade companies in the US travel industry to sign the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, she said, "We've always had extreme reluctance from US companies to talk to us at all. We tried to get US airlines to train employees and show an in-flight video, but they all refused."

Signatories to the Code agree to establish ethical policies regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children, train personnel in countries of origin and travel destinations, contractually require suppliers to repudiate commercial sexual exploitation of children, provide information to travelers and local key personnel at destinations, and report annually.

Since Smolenski's conversation with, the number of signatories to the Code has increased from 623 to almost 1,000. Last week, ECPAT-USA announced that Delta Air Lines has signed the Code, and has agreed to implement policies to combat child trafficking, provide training for their employees to identify and report trafficking, and include information about ECPAT and the Code in its magazine and on its website.

According to ECPAT, Delta is the first major airline in the world and only the third US organization to sign the Code. The other US-based signatories are Carlson Companies and Global Exchange's Reality Tours.

Regarding the responsibility of travel companies in combating child sex tourism, Smolenski stated in a press release, "If they do nothing to raise awareness or to prevent child trafficking, they risk becoming an indirect and unintentional conduit for the abuse that takes place. We are thrilled to have a company like Delta pioneering the way for other US airlines and businesses to join this fight."

Recognizing the legal and reputational risks to travel companies that do not address the issue, sustainable investors have been actively engaging with companies for several years. In response to a shareowner engagement effort led by Boston Common Asset Management, Marriott International agreed to implement training programs to address criminal activities taking place at its locations worldwide.

More recently, Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) encouraged hotel chains operating in South Africa to take action to prevent the sexual exploitation of children and other human trafficking crimes during the FIFA World Cup held there last year. In January of this year, a coalition of investors led by CBIS asked hotels operating to Dallas to sign the Code in advance of the 2011 Super Bowl.


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