Destinations

This UN Effort to Help Travel Companies Challenge Human Trafficking Falls Way Short

@SamShankman

Mar 06, 2014 8:00 am

Skift Take

We really can’t make sense of the UNWTO’s campaign. We’re really not sure what a banner on a website can really do.

— Samantha Shankman

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UNWTO

The logo of the UNWTO's new anti-trafficking campaign that the organization launched on March 5, 2013, during ITB Berlin. UNWTO


The United National World Tourism Organization announced its plan to turn travelers into a global task force for good today when it launched an anti-trafficking campaign in partnership with UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UNESCO.

The campaign launch, timed to take place at travel industry trade show ITB Berlin, is disappointing given the scope and importance of the topic at hand.

The campaign’s bare bones landing page bearesponsibletraveller.org features 5 icons and several sentences that educate travelers about wildlife, human, drug, and antique trafficking.

But the website isn’t really meant for everyday travelers.

It’s meant to educate travel providers, like launch partners Sabre and Marriott, about how they can become involved in the campaign.

According to the UN campaign organizers, this means adding a banner to the company website or distributing printed pamphlets on identifying illegal behavior.

The campaign lacks strong branding, creative digital components that build awareness online, and mobile tools that allow tourists to quickly and easily alert authorities to suspicious behavior.

UNWTO spokesperson Sandra Carvao says that’d be up to travel companies.

“The campaign alerts tourists to these situations and suggest how they should behave,” explains Carvao. “As each country has different ways for reporting, this is not included as it would be difficult to be inclusive.”

Travel provider partners have the opportunity to get more hands on and creative with their campaign integration.

“The campaign will be adapted by each company according to what is more effective in terms of materials to their communication including banner in websites and in booking email confirmations,” says Carvao.

Carvao did not identify any brands, outside of the Marriot and Sabre, currently interested in joining the project.

In theory, the UNWTO has the right idea.

At the launch event, Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, “We should use each hotel room and plane seat to convey this message that changes lives.”

But there is little incentive for travel companies to go beyond pasting a banner to their booking page. It’s similar to tweeting about a great cause without clicking the link to donate a few dollars.

Ironically, the UNWTO campaign is also promoting the hashtag #traveldonttraffic.

There are other initiatives like ECPAT that are working to reduce child tracking and prostitution, and ramping up those efforts for events like the World Cup in Brazil.

The organization’s ‘Don’t Look Away’ campaign asks state and tourism partners to spread awareness materials, but to also host and attend awareness events and workshops and to find sports personalities willing to speak on behalf of the campaign.

The campaign’s brochure, below, provides little additional information for travel brands interested in getting involved.

Download (PDF, 515KB)

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