Meeting Mentor Magazine

July 2024

Destination Trend for 2023 and Beyond: Tourism for All

Destinations International, the resource for official destination organizations and convention and visitors bureaus, recently launched an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) program called “Tourism for All.” Created in partnership with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau in Virginia and Tripadvisor, the idea behind the project is to provide support to convention and visitors bureaus in their efforts to become more inclusive and accessible. This is not just important because destinations should be welcoming to all. Having a diverse demographic of visitors also is economically beneficial. For example, Black travelers accounted for almost $130 billion in travel spend in 2019; Hispanic tourists spent $113 billion. The program also will address the needs of people with disabilities, who already spend $95 billion on travel annual, a number that’s likely to grow as more destinations become viable to those with accessibility needs.

The pilot program will focus on creating an action plan and EDI pledge for the Charlottesville Albemarle CVB’s initiative, developing inclusive tour products, supporting tourism partners in becoming a more welcoming destination and educating traditionally excluded businesses on how to participate in and benefit from tourism. While it is launching in Charlottesville, the program plans to be accessible to all willing destination participants in early 2024, powered in part by Tripadvisor.

The destination’s CVB organization began addressing Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity in 2019 after Executive Director, Courtney Cacatian, MTA, joined the organization following the headline-making racial violence that happened in the area in 2017. Cacatian created the program in concert with Tourism Marketing Strategist Talia Salem, MTA, and Sophia Hyder Hock, Chief Diversity Officer at Destinations International.

“I’m so pleased to see our community’s work over the past couple of years be formalized into a usable model for other destinations,” said Cacatian. “Building on the success of our Destiny Award-winning Discover Black Cville and ‘Tourism for All’ effort, I look forward to seeing how broadening our scope of creating a welcoming space for everyone will bring positive impact to our community, residents, businesses and visitors.”

The partnership with Tripadvisor will allow the program to identify trends among tourism partners and identify EDI terms within traveler-generated content that showcase the program’s efficacy.

“Everyone should be able to travel anywhere and have an enjoyable travel experience. However, our studies with MMGY focusing on Black and Hispanic travelers and travelers with mobility issues highlight a commonality – our industry has more work to do,” said Steven Paganelli, CDME, director of destinations, hotels and OTAs, Americas at Tripadvisor. “The program will rely on actual user testimonials — through both reviews and discussions within Tripadvisor’s Forums to track how service levels for underserved travelers change and improve as a result of ‘Tourism for All.’”


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