This year has shown the world racism – and a lack of understanding of the concept – remain rife. Gary Noakes reports on the implication for travel
Just days after a WTM Virtual seminar on the subject, two public events occurred, highlighting that racism (and ignorance) remain rife, across all industries.
Firstly, Football Association chairman Greg Clarke resigned after remarks completely at odds with the FA’s own inclusion policy. Then, more positively, Lewis Hamilton became Formula 1 champion and pledged to fight towards a “much bigger win” for equality, citing “an awakening this year” within his sport and adding: “People are starting to be held accountable.”
Even five years ago, Clarke may have kept his job and Hamilton his silence, but things have changed, especially following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May. The impact, to a locked-down world, was huge, as WTM’s Racism in Tourism webinar pointed out. “When have black lives mattered other than when everybody was sitting in their house due to a global pandemic and forced to actually say, ‘OK, we do have a race issue’, because we had to actually see it,” said Martinique Lewis, president of the US-based Black Travel Alliance. “That sent the world into an equality movement that we have never seen before.”
Lewis said she had spoken at WTM on diversity and inclusion for the past two years. “Nobody ever showed up other than my colleagues.” However, this year’s virtual session attracted “great feedback and engagement”, according to WTM, and travel is asking itself questions it has never before addressed. “These conversations are super uncomfortable, nobody really wants to look at the problem, but now we’re forced to,” added Lewis.
If you doubt the urgency, consider how fast the LGBT+ movement changed attitudes among the social media generation. Last time around, the Civil Rights movement faced opposition at the highest levels; this time, opposition is not an option if you want to stay in power – or business.
The issue is all-encompassing, from how travel is marketed to employing ethnically diverse staff members, and how destinations portray their heritage.