One industry in the United States often overlooked for its lack of diversity is the group tour industry. Zippia reports that over 70% of tour guides across the U.S. in 2019 were white, while only about 10% of tour guides that year were Hispanic or Latinx, 9% were Asian, and less than 8% identified as Black or African American.
At first glance, it might be unclear why diversity in this industry matters. But Tashieka Brewer, a publicist who puts together travel destinations for Black-focused tour group Pink Girls Run the World explained it to the New York Times.
Daviera Powell, co-founder of Black-owned travel company Budget & Bougie Travel, told the New York Times in the same article that, “It’s important that we’re able to go into spaces and be our most authentic self, and sometimes, depending on the group you may be traveling with, you can’t do that.”
Research completed by MMGY Global found that 54% of U.S. Black travelers “are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising.” Increasing diversity and inclusion in tourism plays a critical role for people of all ethnicities, it also benefits tourism businesses and the destinations. After all, Black travelers alone spent over $100 billion in 2019 according to MMGY Travel Intelligence.
Another area in which diversity and inclusion has historically been lacking is the outdoors. But researchers are paying attention and change is afoot.
Increasing Outdoor Recreation and Education for All
During the recent health and economic crisis, the tourism industry took a hit while participation in outdoor recreational activities increased. However, a study by the Outdoor Industry Association found that white people were more likely to participate in outdoor activities. The research showed that “7.1 million more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2020 than in the year prior,” but almost 75% of those participants were white. A main contributor to this disparity is the fact that communities of color today are three times less likely to live in areas near quality parks or green spaces — creating a “nature gap.”
There are, however, nonpartisan efforts to mitigate this historic imbalance. The Outdoors for All Act hopes to do the following:
- Expand access to the outdoors for all people, regardless of ethnicity, economics or gender.
- Ensure more people can access recreation outdoors metropolitan areas, particularly in the case of underserved communities and areas where income prohibits travel.
- Create grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to create new parks in urban “desert” areas and improve the outdoor state and locally-owned parks and recreation areas that currently exist.
The National Park Service has been making efforts to expand diversity in outdoor recreation and education and to preserve African American history for over 20 years — encouraging communities of color to travel to national parks. In 2001, the charitable arm of the National Park Service, National Park Foundation (NPF), started the African American Experience Fund (AAEF) to “support the development and awareness of innovative educational, volunteer and community engagement programs at national parks and national historic sites that celebrate and tell the story of African American history and culture.” Fund II Foundation, an organization for which Robert F. Smith serves as the founding director and President, is an ongoing partner of AAEF and has helped the NPF continue their work through grants and donations.
Learn more about why Robert F. Smith advocates for inclusive access to outdoor spaces.