As a transsexual woman, TTG’s focus on promoting the acceptance of diversity is close to my heart. But it must be embraced by all of us.
The issue is not just so-called “pink-washing” – organisations presenting themselves as progressive in order to downplay negative behaviour.
Refusal to accept diversity is at the core of the biggest challenges in the global society. Accepting and embracing the differences in humanity – gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or beliefs, and racial or ethnic origin – is vital to the future of our industry.
In recent weeks and months, examples of extreme factions in society threatening this diversity with death and destruction have yet again filled our newsfeeds.
When, on Easter Sunday, three Christian churches across Sri Lanka and three hotels in capital Colombo were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings, the outrageous acts of a few demonstrated a violent refusal to accept diversity. The empathy and support from our industry is testament to a commitment not to let this intolerance overcome us.
The announcement by the Sultan of Brunei to enact laws on 3 April to punish homosexual acts with death by stoning attracted widespread international condemnation. While it is claimed this decision in Brunei is rooted in religious beliefs, it remains an extreme refusal to accept diversity in other human beings.
The reaction by our industry – with many blacklisting businesses owned by the sultan – is a tangible reaction and a protest against this challenge to our diversity and humanity.
Supposed “white supremacism” was behind the Christchurch mosque shootings in March, which killed 50 people and injured many more. This extreme intolerance caused immense human suffering, yet the global empathy and examples of those of other religions defending places of Islamic worship is testament to the underlying embracing of diversity in society.
As New York State, one of Funway Holidays’ most visited destinations, gears up to host its first-ever World Pride next month, I am heartened that our key tourism destinations, our industry at large and our trade paper, TTG, continue to be at the forefront of championing and celebrating diversity.
World Pride is a force for acceptance of diversity, a global LGBTQ celebration that this year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall protests. Three million local and international visitors are expected to celebrate the event, all supporting diversity.
My personal journey depended on acceptance by friends, family, colleagues and industry partners. I urge any travel business leader who has yet to embrace and sign the TTG Diversity Charter to reach out to the TTG team to see how you can show your business and customers that you too value the diversity in our society.
Embracing differences in gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or beliefs and racial or ethnic origin are critical to harmony, which is vital to the future of our industry.
Melissa Tilling is managing director at Funway Holidays
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