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Companies address racial inequality within the tourism industry

By Kevin Zhang Apr. 7 2022

Ellie Kim Art

Few would expect tourism—an activity that conjures feelings of relaxation and fun—to be in an industry riddled with racial inequality and a lack of representation. According to Zippia, a career statistics site, less than 8% of U.S.-based tour guides are African American, a meager percentage compared to the 70% of tour guides who are white. Following the global push for racial equality in 2020, major tour companies are now acting on their pledges to increase inclusivity within the industry.

“Companies’ recent efforts to increase racial diversity within the tourism industry will likely make tour services more appealing to the general public, especially to people of color. Having a tour guide that shares and understands your culture makes an unfamiliar place more comfortable,” Senior Ahad Jiva said.

Sparked by the social justice movement in 2020, the travel industry has overseen major shifts in hiring practices. According to Condé Nast Traveler, representation and diversity in a corporation have become more important factors for workers looking for employment.

A recent study by marketing communications company MMGY Global shows that 54% of Black travelers in the U.S. indicated that they are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising. However, others feel that there are brands that use the words racial diversity to lure in consumers, rather than promoting the actual cause.

“A lot of companies engage in performance activism, marketing themselves as being diverse and inclusive without actually reflecting it in their employment practices. For many of them, it is simply a way to boost their reputation,” Junior Christina Xu said.

Ellie Kim Art

Historically, the tour industry has displayed a lack of diversity in hiring practices and marketing campaigns: according to a 2019 report, only one in 33 leaders in the tourism industry identify with a minority background. Regent University states that this lack of representation in major leadership positions results in less innovative approaches being taken in terms of business organization, less Black employees being hired and an overall lack of representation within the tourism industry.

Furthermore, the New York Times states that entering the industry is costly, with tour guide training courses costing at least 5,000 dollars.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, African Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty, which may make them less likely to consider pursuing a career as a tour guide.

However, there have been a variety of programs created to help minorities enter the tour industry. For instance, The Pathways Project—created by the Travel Corporation—aims to train qualified candidates and bring more Black and Indigenous guides into the industry. Additionally, Delta Air Lines has worked with various corporations including AT&T and AllState to form OneTen: an organization hoping to train one million African Americans over the next 10 years. Aside from major companies, individuals have also made efforts to push for racial equality, such as publicist Tashieka Brewer, who created a website that compiles tours offered by Black tour guides and hotels recommended as welcoming to Black travelers.

The tour industry’s recent efforts in developing programs that support racial equity will likely bring more diversity into tour companies and make the traveling experience more inclusive for tourists.


About the Contributors

Kevin Zhang

Staff Writer

Kevin Zhang is a junior at Leland High School. He is indeed clinically sane, although his actions might occasionally suggest otherwise. In his free time, he enjoys playing video games, blood rituals, reading, and watching the sunset.

Ellie Kim


Ellie Kim is currently a junior at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and spending time with friends.

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