Special thanks to GOOD travellers Curtis Dennis and Vallori Thomas for their invaluable feedback on this article.
The worldwide protests following the killing of George Floyd have not only shone a spotlight on the over-policing of black communities which results from the long-standing pervasiveness of racism in the U.S., but they have also drawn renewed attention to the global inequalities for so many disenfranchised populations around the world.
Tourism is one of the world's largest industries, employing 1 in 11 people and generating US$7.2 trillion annually (pre-COVID-19). Tourism provides income opportunities in communities around the world, but it is often not balanced with positive social impact. This is the cornerstone of why we founded GOOD Travel in 2013 - to promote and facilitate travel that has a positive impact on the community, environment, and economy. By pioneering a new vision for tourism, GOOD Travel’s goal is to change the face and experience of travel, and ultimately create a better world.
We were founded on our core values of openness, passion, learning, transparency, and integrity. Our business model is built on mutually beneficial relationships and our aim is to support community-driven sustainable change. We treat others with respect, we believe in equality and we support fair practices. We are an inclusive organisation, which celebrates diversity. We love working with people regardless of actual or perceived national identity, sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, or culture. And the global uprising against racism has not only revealed that more work is needed, but that we, as an organisation, can do more as well.
It is with our mission and these core values in mind that we, the founders, staff and volunteers of GOOD Travel, acknowledge that racial bias in the travel industry has resulted in systemic practices that are unfair to people of color, and that when travelling, people of colour are not always afforded the same treatment as white travellers. There is also a significant lack of equal opportunity for people of colour working in the travel industry. And several studies have found that African-American tourists, for example, identify racial discrimination as a key barrier to visiting many places, both within the U.S. and around the globe.
We are committed to engaging our mission to help eradicate racism. We will continue to partner with businesses and individuals that represent the diversity that is so critical to GOOD Travel’s mission, which includes allocating $100 of each guest's fee on group trips to the marginalised or disenfranchised communities GOOD travellers visit. In addition, here are actions GOOD Travel is committed to taking immediately:
1. Ensure that our website adequately represents through images and words the make-up of our travel guests, 50% of whom are black, and our trip leaders, many of whom are people of colour.
2. Recalibrate our partnerships with individuals and non-profit organisations with the goal of providing opportunities for black youth to travel internationally and, when needed, create new relationships toward that end.
3. Review and revamp our communications and trip design processes to ensure that marginalised and disenfranchised communities in the destinations we visit are depicted and engaged with empathy, dignity and respect; to provide a context that empowers our travellers to examine their beliefs about marginalised and disenfranchised communities.
4. Speak to the intersectionality within our GOOD Travel community as a mechanism to educate and mobilise for change.
Our communities grow stronger when we honour and celebrate diversity. We encourage feedback now more than ever from our travellers and partner businesses so we can continue to get better at doing GOOD. We invite you to hold us accountable.
We want to be pushed out of our collective comfort zones. We want to champion solutions that demand the travel industry look more like the places we are privileged to visit. Because if we are truly going to create a better world through travel, it has to be one where the systems and structures that feed racism and inequality no longer exist.