Asheboro, NC – Human trafficking has become widespread with travel and tourism businesses playing an increasingly important role in assuring that the hospitality industry is not hospitable to traffickers. The Randolph County Tourism Development Authority (RCTDA) recently partnered with the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) to make BEST (Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking) Inhospitable to Human Trafficking training available to frontline staff members working in the I-73/74 Visitor Centers.

According to Lynn Minges, President & CEO of NCRLA, “We are a proud partner of the No Room for Trafficking Campaign, an awareness campaign that builds on the industry’s ongoing commitment and works to end human trafficking. Through elevating, assessing, educating and supporting the fight to end human trafficking, this campaign will ensure hotel and other frontline employees are continuously developing a better understanding of ways to identify traffickers and potential victims in hotels.”

BEST offers a comprehensive human trafficking training program with tools to help victims of human trafficking escape exploitation. Survey research has shown that before receiving training, only eight percent of trainees recognized a trafficking incident within the prior year. After taking BEST’s training, that number jumped to 44% recognition. Upon course completion, staff members receive a certificate of completion.

According to Tammy O’Kelley, CEO of the RCTDA, Visitor Center staff members have witnessed instances of possible sex and labor trafficking.

“There have been no situations where staff members felt they were in danger personally, but there have been occasions when they had gut reactions to situations that didn’t look and feel right to them.”

BEST’s training explains the truth of trafficking, and plainly describes laws and concrete steps on how staff can personally make a difference in the lives of children and adults who are exploited every day. Objectives of the training include:

  • Provides an overview of sex trafficking and labor trafficking and their impact on the travel industry
  • Outlines common indicators of human trafficking and case examples
  • Provides action steps for how to respond to and prevent human trafficking
  • Outlines key takeaways and provides additional resources, including modules to address real scenarios

Prior to the training, O’Kelley said that at least one employee had contacted Randolph County Emergency Services non-emergency number to discuss a possible case of trafficking they noticed while working at the Visitor Centers.

“We hope that by providing this training our employees feel more comfortable identifying suspicious activities and are aware of their moral obligation to report possible instances of trafficking while also understanding their legal rights and ensuring the safety of staff and all visitors to the I-73/74 Visitor Centers,” said O’Kelley.

The Randolph County Tourism Development Authority operates the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau representing Archdale, Asheboro, Franklinville, Liberty, Ramseur, Randleman, Seagrove, Staley and Trinity; and the I-73/74 Visitor Centers. For additional information on local tourism industry initiatives, call (336) 626-0364 or go online to