USTA forms new partnership to boost diversity and inclusion

Consulting agency Tourism Diversity Matters to provide subject matter expertise, research and resources

The U.S. Travel Association says its new partnership with consulting agency Tourism Diversity Matters will provide expertise and resources for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the travel industry.

THE U.S. TRAVEL Association and Tourism Diversity Matters formed a new strategic partnership to focus on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), a statement from USTA said. The partnership will provide USTA more access to Tourism Diversity Matters’ subject matter expertise, research and resources.

Founded in 2021, Tourism Diversity Matters addresses blind spots in ethnic disparities within the tourism and events industries. It will provide these industry leaders with resources and tactics to develop more effective DEI strategies to engage, recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

DEI is a core priority of USTA, the association said in a statement, and is committed to having a vital role in affecting lasting change and supporting the development of industry-wide DEI plans. The partnership will advance workforce development issues and federal policy initiatives that support travel’s recovery, the statement added.

“USTA has a clear vision: in working closely with Tourism Diversity Matters, we aim to help the travel sector achieve a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive industry for all,” said Roger Dow, USTA’s president and CEO and a board member of Tourism Diversity Matters. “Aligning with Tourism Diversity Matters is a great step toward this pursuit that will enrich USTA’s membership for years to come.”

Tourism Diversity Matters also has partnered with Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to conduct academic research and facilitate workforce development.

“A key goal of Tourism Diversity Matters is to affiliate with industry partners such as USTA to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions that will benefit the tourism and events industry as a whole,” said Greg DeShields, executive director of Tourism Diversity Matters.

Besides Dow, Carnival Cruise Line president and USTA national chair Christine Duffy is also a member of Tourism Diversity Matters’ board of directors, whose board is led by chairman Elliott Ferguson, immediate past chair of USTA.

“Diversity strengthens organizations by bringing new ideas and perspectives to the forefront,” said Contina Djaouga, vice president of finance for USTA and head of the association’s internal DEI committee. “Tourism Diversity Matters provides the resources for our industry to take meaningful action to build an inclusive workforce that better represents our country’s diverse population.”

A report in February this year from The Castell Project, a not-for-profit that promotes women in the industry, revealed that most hospitality company boards are behind on diversity.