ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, 30 JANUARY 2012 – Last week, ECPAT-USA was honored to attend International Tour Management Institute’s (ITMI) 26th Annual Symposium, where ITMI became the first travel and tourism institute to sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. Last year, ITMI incorporated human trafficking training into their curriculum. All graduates of the program are educated on the issue, the signs of trafficking, and empowered to report suspected incidences to the proper authorities.
In a press release about the signing event Ted Bravos, CEO of ITMI expressed his commitment to the issue “As a leader in the education of tour directors, guides and tourism industry professionals it is our responsibility to provide our students and partners with the training to recognize and report potential traffickers,” explained Ted. “Tourism industry professionals can make a tremendous impact in helping to end this horrific crime.”
ITMI marked their Code signing with a highly attended signing ceremony, with speeches by Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and former CEO of Carlson Companies, Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA, and Ted Bravos, CEO and Founder, International Tour Management Institute. Marilyn Carlson Nelson has been a long-time supporter of the Code. Carlson Companies was the first American company to sign the Code in 2004. She expressed her support for programming against human trafficking in an ITMI press release, “The travel and hospitality industry is in a unique position to address this problem and we all have a responsibility to do so.”
The signing was followed by a panel presentation where attendees were able to ask questions on the issue to a panel of experts. The panel was comprised of Maria Sanchez-Gagne, Assistant Attorney General for New Mexico, Sandy Dhuyvetter, Executive Producer and Host of Travel Talk Radio, AnnaMaria Cardinalli, Human Rights Activist, Singer and Flamenco Guitarist, and Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. The event and panel were extremely successful. “It [the Q&A session of the panel] was very encouraging to hear the questions and see how eager ITMI alumni are to learn about what they can do to protect children in tourism,” Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA said.