The travel industry’s reckoning with race and inclusion

The travel industry’s reckoning with race and inclusion

Tourists, particularly Black travelers, are paying close attention to how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity and equity after a year of social justice protests.

Between the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought tourism to a near-complete halt for months on end, and last summer’s protests for social justice, the past year has been one of reckoning for the travel industry on issues of race and inclusivity.

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, everybody from hotel operators to luggage makers declared themselves allies of the protesters. At a time when few people were traveling, Instagram posts and pledges to diversify were easy to make. But now, as travel once again picks up, the question of how much travel has really changed has taken on new urgency.

“From the very emergence of the Covid pandemic and especially in the wake of uprisings last summer, there’s a question about place,” said Paul Farber, the director of Monument Lab, a Pennsylvania-based public art and history studio that works with cities and states that want to examine, remove or add historic monuments. “What is the relationship of people and places? Where are sites of belonging? Where are sites where historic injustices may be physically or socially marked?”

Monument Lab is one of several organizations, groups and individuals trying to change the way travelers of all colors understand America’s racially fraught history. Urging people to engage with history beyond museums and presentations from preservation societies is one approach.

In turn, many travelers are paying close attention to whether companies are following through with their promises from last year. Black travelers, in particular, are doubling down on supporting Black-owned businesses. A survey released earlier this year by the consulting firm MMGY Global found that Black travelers, particularly those in the United States, Canada, Britain and Ireland, are keenly interested in how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity and have indicated that it has an influence on their travel decision-making.

This is an excerpt from an article by Tariro Mzezewa, originally published by The New York Times.

 

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