Tourism for All: Image
In partnership with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tripadvisor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. (November 2, 2022) – Destinations International, the world’s largest resource for official destination organizations and convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), announced the launch of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) “Tourism for All” pilot program in partnership with the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, Virginia, (CVB) powered by Tripadvisor. The pilot program is designed to support CVBs and destination organizations in being more inclusive, welcoming and accessible to both prospective visitors and tourism businesses.
This pilot program illustrates the CVB’s value in a new way: through its engagement with the entire community, access to opportunities in the tourism economy, and being the leader in welcoming all people to a destination. Through a focus on inclusive marketing, welcoming diverse demographics and creating accessible spaces, the CVB can become the bright beacon to which people from anywhere can find commonality and community, while also attracting new and underserved travelers to the destination.
Traveler studies highlight the economic benefit of different demographics. Black Travelers spent nearly $130 billion dollars on travel in 2019, closely followed by Hispanic travelers who spent $113 billion. According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018, one in four people in the US have a disability. People with disabilities spend $95 billion globally on travel annually and that number will grow as destinations and travel products become more accessible.
The “Tourism for All” pilot program will focus on the following areas:
- Creating an action plan and an EDI pledge for the Charlottesville Albemarle CVB’s “Tourism for All” initiative by engaging a diverse array of community members, tourism professionals and businesses involved in the tourism industry.
- Developing intentionally inclusive tour products that tell the stories of historically excluded populations and reach broader audiences.
- Supporting the growth of the Charlottesville Albemarle CVB “Tourism for All” initiative by helping tourism partners cultivate safe physical spaces and developing strategic partnerships to become a more welcoming destination.
- Educating traditionally excluded businesses on how to participate in and benefit from the visitor economy.
The Charlottesville Albemarle CVB began its journey to address EDI when the Executive Director, Courtney Cacatian, MTA joined in August 2019, two years after racial violence sparked in August 2017. Charlottesville continued to dominate headlines and Cacatian recognized the need for a more complete narrative of the destination while working toward real change. At that point, she engaged Talia Salem, MTA, a tourism marketing strategist, and Sophia Hyder Hock, formerly an EDI consultant, now the chief diversity officer at Destinations International, to help see the community and the Charlottesville Albemarle CVB through the work. This initiative became “Tourism for All.”
“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."
When Hock joined Destinations International as its chief diversity officer, she took along the knowledge of the process in Charlottesville and saw the opportunity to create a replicable model for other destinations.
“Destinations International is committed to bringing intentional EDI practices to destinations around the world,” said Sophia Hyder Hock. “What sets this initiative apart is its focus on destination and partner accountability. This work is essential to our roles as CVBs and building trust in our communities.”
Recognizing the need for trackable metrics, the team partnered with Tripadvisor to leverage its research. This work will identify trends among participating tourism partners through Tripadvisor’s market segments, business ratings, and by identifying EDI terms within traveler-generated content that showcase the work the destination and partners are undertaking.
“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.”
The pilot program will take place first in Charlottesville, VA and will then be launched to all destinations wishing to participate in early 2024. The announcement was made at the 2022 Destinations International Advocacy Summit in Bloomington, MN. Destinations International focuses on creating community shared value and demonstrating the CVB’s impact on its destination during the Advocacy Summit.
About Destinations International:
Destinations International is the world’s largest resource for official destination organizations, convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and tourism boards. For more information, visit www.destinationsinternational.org.