Local hotel company works to fight against human trafficking - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local hotel company works to fight against human trafficking

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The human trafficking industry is growing, right here in the United States.

We spoke to a local Hotel General Manager, who says they're working hard to combat it before it becomes a major issue locally.

The Chattanooga-based hotel company.. Vision Hospitality Group Inc. is working to stay one step ahead of traffickers.

They are the first company in the state of Tennessee to develop and require training for their hotel employees on human trafficking awareness.

They hope this will help deter traffickers all together.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry - just behind drugs.  

"You sort of assume that these are things that are happening in foreign countries that they're foreign to us and they're not. 80 percent of the children that are being trafficked from the United States are from the United States," said Bill Mish, General Manager at the Double Tree Hotel.

Called the modern-day slavery, it's estimated to be a 32-billion dollar industry.

Mish says while it may be growing, many people still have misconceptions on how the human trafficking industry works and that it hits closer to home.

"It doesn't have to happen at a 29 room motel off the free-way, it tends to happen at the nicer properties,"
said Mish.

This is why he says they're training their employees on what to look for.

"There are opportunities where these things might exist in our industry, we felt it important to move forward and make the awareness known to our associates," said Mish.

They're looking for children who seem disconnected and don't converse with anyone, young ones who are always under strict adult supervision and kids who aren't wearing clothing for the appropriate season.
Those are only a few of the indicators or behaviors that could signal a problem.

"You can get a feel for it quickly when you see those sorts of signs," said Mish.

Mish says their training opened a few eyes.

"Those light bulbs go off, you can see it in their eyes, they have a story to tell-- they've seen something but they never quite knew what it was. Now we know what it is," said Mish.

Mish says they hope this training will prove to work and are hoping to have it adopted by the whole state of Tennessee for every hotel.

"It's our industry, why wouldn't you want to do that," said Mish.

Mish tells me the average age of the victims is between 12 and 14.

He says it's been a collaboration with several state and federal agencies to stop human trafficking.

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