Of Human Bondage

Slavery continues to haunt the modern world, but efforts to eradicate it are growing.



Chief Executive Officer and President, Sabre Holdings

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. Victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of labor or services against their will.

Human trafficking … in any part of the world, for any reason … is unacceptable. Yet, today, approximately 27 million human beings are held in captivity as a result of this US$32 billion-a-year criminal industry. To make matters worse, the perpetrators are using our travel and tourism industries to transport their victims.

That’s why, more than ever, it’s our responsibility to stand up against human traffickers and help bring an end to this horrific crime.

In September 2012, Sabre Holdings® launched “Passport to Freedom,” a comprehensive initiative to unite the travel and tourism industries to fight human trafficking. More than 500 people joined us at our headquarters in Southlake, Texas, to kick off this vital mission.

Many leaders from the travel and tourism industries, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies attended the event, as well as key advocates of the fight against human trafficking, including:

And video greetings were streamed from those who could not attend in person, including:

In addition to launching Passport to Freedom, we are the first global travel technology company to sign the tourism code of conduct (The Code). It is an international tourism-focused initiative against human trafficking, co-funded by the Swiss government (SECO) and private sector investments, and supported by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) International, with UNICEF and the World Tourism Organization acting as advisory partners.

Our company has a presence in all segments of the travel sector from agents, airlines and hotels to tour services and travelers, and everything in between. This puts us in a unique position to act as a driving force in raising awareness for this cause. Human trafficking impacts countries around the world. Passport to Freedom is part of our effort to rally the travel and tourism industries to help end these crimes as well as help survivors rebuild their lives.

Passport to Freedom addresses these issues by focusing on three primary objectives: to educate, collaborate and advocate. As such, I encourage everyone in the travel and tourism industries to take a stand against this heinous crime by signing The Code, training your employees and educating your customers.

Signing The Code will send a strong message that your company does not accept or tolerate human trafficking. It lets criminals, and the traveling public alike, know that you are not going to allow human traffickers to use your company as a stepping stone for their corrupt activities. Signing The Code also gives you the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals who share similar values. Together, as a united force, we can put a significant dent in the human trafficking industry, with the goal of stopping it altogether.

Of equal importance is employee training. We recently rolled out a 30-minute online Passport to Freedom training course to educate our 10,000 employees about the scourge of human trafficking, about how it impacts the travel industry, how to recognize it and what to do when you see it.

There are expert nonprofit organizations that provide training to identify and correctly report occurrences of human trafficking. We have partnered with the Polaris Project, a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Polaris Project served as one of our subject matter experts when we developed our employee training. In addition, its experts advised us on how our company can make the biggest impact to the cause.

Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) is another organization that trains many people around the world about how to identify victims and their perpetrators, why it’s important not to confront criminals and the correct procedures for reporting a human trafficking crime.

In recent months, AAI has visited our offices in Southlake, Texas, and Kiev, Ukraine, to conduct in-person training for hundreds of our employees.

Another important sector in which to create awareness is the traveling public. Some airlines show in-flight videos to build awareness and educate customers on how to detect human trafficking and report it in a cautious manner.

Naturally, many people prefer to mind their own business. They don’t want to get involved. But stopping human trafficking is our business. It happens right in front of us … on our property, in our territories … and we need to get involved. If we don’t, human traffickers will continue to use our businesses for their illegal activities, and the number of victims will continue to rise.
With that, I welcome you to read our special section about human trafficking and join me in the crusade against it. Together, we can save lives.



Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. The factors each of these situations has in common are elements of force, fraud or coercion used to control people. That control is tied to inducing someone into commercial sex acts, labor or services. This ‘compelled service’ is a lucrative activity and explains why human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

WHY SHOulD WE FOcuS On HuMan TraFFicKing?

The travel industry is unwittingly used by the chain of human trafficking. But our network of travelers, travel agencies, suppliers and employees are in unique positions to be the eyes and ears for organizations that are trying to help victims and stop perpetrators of human trafficking.

We can be key players in the fight to end human trafficking. Our goal is to increase awareness of human trafficking issues, provide important information, and engage you to make an impact through your everyday activities — so together we can help our industry make our world a better place to live.

HOW big iS THE HuMan SlavErY MarKETPlacE?

TWENTY-SEVEN MILLION people are currently enslaved globally, and represent $32 billion in annual revenue for the criminals behind the trading-in-persons pandemic.
FIFTY-FIVE PERCENT of the enslaved are women and children.

These are the main categories of human trafficking:
Sex Trafficking Examples
  • Adult and Child Prostitution, Massage Parlors, Pornography, Online Chat and Strip Club Dancing
Forced and Bonded Labor Examples
  • Agriculture, Construction, Landscaping and Manufacturing
  • Hospitality Services, Janitorial, Health and Elder Care, and Hair and Nail Salons
  • Involuntary Domestic Servitude (e.g., Nannies, Maids, Servants)
  • Panhandling, Door-to-Door Sales, Traveling Carnivals
  • Child Soldiering
  • “The only thing necessary for
    the triumph of evil is for good
    men to do nothing.”
    — Edmund Burke

    24 hours a day,
    7 days a week,
    365 days a year

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