Industry urged to do more to support BAME travellers

The travel industry “must do more” to support non-white, minority ethnic travellers, a senior teaching fellow at the University of Surrey has urged.

Speaking at last week’s International Women in Travel and Tourism Forum, Dr. Sumeetra Ramakrishnan said she felt the industry does not go far enough to support BAME travellers, who she said are limited in their travel options for fear of encountering racism or physical abuse.

Responding to research conducted by Women in Travel looking into travellers’ behaviour, Ramakrishnan said it was “clear that non-white, minority ethnic travellers worry about racism and the physical risk of travel”, adding many are forced to do ‘homework’ before going abroad.

“These travellers want to go to new destinations but are concerned by the risks and will only go to safe destinations. As a group, they are not impulsive, but they want to be,” she told delegates.

She urged the industry to do more to support the “economically incredible powerful” group.

“Non-white, minority ethnics are voracious travellers and economically incredibly powerful”, she said. “There is a stigma that non-white, minority ethnics travel abroad to visit their family and friends, but that isn’t the case.

“They are tech-savvy, and looking at sustainable travel to international destinations. They are knowledgeable about travel and are looking for unique ideas, so we must do more to support them getting there.”

Ramakrishnan went on to criticise the industry’s lack of representation of the BAME community both internally and in marketing material.

“Lack of representation is a serious issue and it’s across the board”, she said. “There’s a lack of representation in senior leadership roles and a lack of representation in marketing.

“Senior leaders don’t know how to translate their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plans into actions. It is about turning ideas and strategy into something that is actionable and holding businesses to account.”


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