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Racism in Tourism

July 29, 2020
Harold Goodwin
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At WTM London in November there will be a panel on Tourism & Racism discussing the issue and its scale, and sharing ideas about what can be done to address it.

Between now and November we shall be publishing some blogs on tourism and racism and curating a series of interviews with people about the issues and ways in which it can be addressed. We are assembling the interviews on YouTube before publishing them on the WTM website. You can view them here

Alex Temblador explains the problem

It’s the travel industry’s responsibility to do something about it.

The travel industry tends to think of itself as a space of leisure, fun, and escape where such things like racism are left behind for good times. The problem is, for black individuals and people of color, escaping racism is not something they can do by taking a vacation. Racism, like in many other sectors of society, has been built into the travel industry, both knowingly and unknowingly.

I can showcase the pervasiveness of racism in the travel industry through study after study, through anecdotes of racial attacks on planes and racial biases in hotels or cruises. I can provide interviews with black men and women and people of color who share stories of harassment in various destinations, even those by travel agents like Alfred W. who told me, “I get looks all the time when I travel. I'm a 6' 6" 270 lbs. black male and when I enter a room/resort lobby/airplane/restaurant, I see it on some of the faces. You should see the looks of shock I get when I sit down in first-class seating.”

You can inform yourself as to what racism looks like in the travel industry by reading articles and studies related to racism on TravelPulse and other outlets, as well as memoirs written by black travelers and travelers of color like Maureen Stone’s Black Woman Walking and Amanda Epe’s Fly Girl, a memoir written by a black female flight attendant. Consult sites like Travel Noire, a digital media company serving African Diaspora travelers."

These extracts are from How the Travel Industry Can Do Its Part in the Fight Against Racism in Travel Pulse. 

The tourism industry needs to take responsibility and address racism throughout the sector. PwC and TTG have published a report arguing the business case for doing so. Download  Conde Nast Traveler  are reporting that the Black Travel Alliance has launched a  Black Travel Scorecard, which will evaluate destinations and travel brands under five key areas and they are promoting  Black-owned businesses, including tour groups like Experience Real Cartagena and African Lisbon Tours, which seek to amplify Black history or culture in a destination. Read the views of ten BAME people about the issues we need too address .

Justin Francis has described the broad agenda, changing attitudes, opening up travel, ensuring that more money finds its way into local hands,  finding ways to address and stop conscious or unconscious racist behaviour towards travellers of colour, ensuring that BAME communities are consulted about the impact tourism has on them. more

The comedian Lenny Henry writes about he learnt about the legacy of the British empire on a trip to the Caribbean. Here

  1. Jacqueline Ngo Mpii founded Little Africa in 2014, a tour company, publishing house and cultural agency based in Paris.. She offers walking tours in la Goutte d’Or, also known as ‘Little Africa’, a working-class neighbourhood that has been branded a ‘no-go zone’ by some cultural commentators. This densely populated, lively pocket of the north of Paris lies to the east of the Montmartre hill, but while (in non-pandemic times) tourists arrive by the bus-load to visit the neighbouring Sacré-Coeur, the vast majority never set foot there.  more

Forbes Magazine carried an inspiring story about Beks Ndlovu, a Zimbabwean who founded African Bush Camps  in 2006,  a  'black leader, in a white-dominated industry.' As he says "Our industry needs to reshape itself for an inevitable future which can only serve us better. We need to be able to attract people of colour into more senior positions to give us the diversity we need to form perspectives and make decisions as a collective culture. I would like to see more industry initiatives and funds that support and groom new African leaders and ambassadors of conservation for the future. The transformation should not just be with our staff but our target market – from locals to foreign black travellers – they should be encouraged to travel and experience our amazing continent." more

"It is not about marketing slogans or campaigns in my view, but about the proactive actions each of us personally take and hold ourselves accountable for," Carnival chief executive Arnold Donald, one of the few black executives in the industry, wrote in an email. "There is an opportunity here for all of us to do more - and do much better - looking closely at our diversity and inclusion results across the board and challenging ourselves as individuals to take actions that can make a difference." more

Auliana Poon, writing from the Caribbean, has powerfully contrasted their experience with that of Blacks in America. As Auliana points out "For people who have been born in the Caribbean, it is truly a privilege. To live in a free and democratic society, where education and health are free; where the environment is pristine; and the air is fresh. But we are not yet in the clear. Because we are unable to create enough jobs; our major export is people (the brain drain); islanders do not worship the ground we were born on, dreaming about America instead; we do not eat what grows in our backyard or in the sea (preferring Kentucky Fry Chicken instead and allowing the Chinese and Japanese to rape our waters and sea beds); and we do not love who we are, wishing we were whiter."  Read more here.

We need to take responsibility and address racism, in tourism 

JD Shadel writes in the Washington Post 
There have been many proclamations that #BlackLivesMatter, lots of "listening and learning" but little action.

UGOGIRL Black Travel Books
Best Travel Narratives by People of Color

+++++++++++++

For an African-American woman, a study-abroad program in Italy led to an eye-opening experience. “Disgusting black women” were the stinging words of one racial encounter. New York Times

Dan Williams is a leader in the tourism industry – but he says that hasn't stopped him from experiencing racism throughout his lifetime, even still today Columbus Business First

On Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued an alert warning against travel to Australia, citing a "significant increase" in racist attacks on "Chinese and Asian people". "Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asian people in Australia have seen a significant increase," the ministry statement said. "The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to enhance their safety awareness and do not travel to Australia". ABC News

"It is not about marketing slogans or campaigns in my view, but about the proactive actions each of us personally take and hold ourselves accountable for," Carnival chief executive Arnold Donald, one of the few black executives in the industry, wrote in an email. "There is an opportunity here for all of us to do more - and do much better - looking closely at our diversity and inclusion results across the board and challenging ourselves as individuals to take actions that can make a difference." more
Auliana Poon, writing from the Caribbean, has powerfully contrasted their experience with that of Blacks in America. As Auliana points out "For people who have been born in the Caribbean, it is truly a privilege. To live in a free and democratic society, where education and health are free; where the environment is pristine; and the air is fresh. But we are not yet in the clear. Because we are unable to create enough jobs; our major export is people (the brain drain); islanders do not worship the ground we were born on, dreaming about America instead; we do not eat what grows in our backyard or in the sea (preferring Kentucky Fry Chicken instead and allowing the Chinese and Japanese to rape our waters and sea beds); and we do not love who we are, wishing we were whiter."  Read more here.
Forbes Magazine carried an inspiring story about Beks Ndlovu, a Zimbabwean who founded African Bush Camps  in 2006,  a  'black leader, in a white-dominated industry.' As he says "Our industry needs to reshape itself for an inevitable future which can only serve us better. We need to be able to attract people of colour into more senior positions to give us the diversity we need to form perspectives and make decisions as a collective culture. I would like to see more industry initiatives and funds that support and groom new African leaders and ambassadors of conservation for the future. The transformation should not just be with our staff but our target market – from locals to foreign black travellers – they should be encouraged to travel and experience our amazing continent." more

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