Wyndham Worldwide, Parsippany, New Jersey, revealed to CNN on Friday that it is implementing new staff training procedures in light of child prostitution busts in Oceanside, California, motels.
The move is in response to allegations coming out of an 18-month federal investigation that Travelodge motel staff aided a criminal enterprise by helping Crips gang members running a child prostitution ring pick rooms less likely to be detected by police in exchange for cash. The owners of the franchise motel, the Patel family, are among 38 people being charged in the investigation. The results of the investigation were announced in April.
The news prompted online advocacy organization Change.org to organize a petition, which nearly 14,000 people signed urging Wyndham to change personnel policies to address child prostitution at lodging facilities.
“We anticipate completing the process in August,” said Christine DaSilva, senior director of communications at Wyndham Hotel Group said. “As long as human trafficking and exploitation continue to be supported by those profiting from this tragic practice, we believe no member of the travel and tourism industry can ever guarantee these events will not occur in the future. However, our shared commitment and partnership with organizations like the Polaris Project and ECPAT help play a critical role in increasing awareness and prevention.”
ECPAT is an international nonprofit that fights child prostitution and Polaris Project is also a nonprofit combating human trafficking.