Now is the time for the travel industry to make changes to support diversity and inclusion, says Al Hutchinson, Visit Baltimore chief and president. Abra Dunsby reports.
Visit Baltimore chief Al Hutchinson believes there is work to be done to address the travel industry’s lack of racial diversity.
“The travel industry needs to have a very honest, critical conversation about race,” he says.
It starts with education, from bringing in thought leaders to conferences and meetings who can speak about issues such as unconscious bias and white privilege, to educating Black children about career opportunities in travel.
“Education is the first step to [allowing] people to change their mindset,” he says, suggesting travel companies begin addressing the racial imbalance in the industry by “taking a look at their strategic plans, mission statements and core values to see if they include statements about social justice or racism.”
By reaching out to schools, colleges and universities, and speaking about and offering career opportunities to Black students, travel companies can ensure more racial diversity.
“Unfortunately in the travel industry we’ve lacked job opportunities for people of colour, especially in senior leadership,” says Hutchinson.
“We have to begin to look at reaching out to colleges and universities – and maybe even go back to high schools – and share with students the career opportunities in travel and tourism for people of colour, and begin to have these conversations early.
“There is a huge opportunity right now to share an industry with a community who really doesn’t know about it.”