Tourism groups aim for more diversity, inclusion in planning

March 19, 2022 GMT

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. (AP) — Tourism leaders from across the Southeast are expected to gather in an Atlanta suburb this month to explore more ways of incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into their travel planning.

State tourism officials and groups from Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia are among those expected to attend the 2022 Travel Unity Summit Southeast Tuesday through Friday in Brookhaven, Georgia.

The aim is to provide welcoming experiences for all visitors. Organizers say it’s one of the first events of its kind and represents growing initiatives in the United States.

The summit will focus on ways of helping marketers, members of the travel industry and economic development professionals incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into the strategic planning or their organizations.

Explore Brookhaven expects about 200 people to attend the four days of leadership training and discussion around embracing diversity to expand tourism. Summit topics will include how to understand, identify and connect with diverse travelers, fostering welcoming communities, and attracting diverse events.

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“We are excited to host the 2022 Travel Unity Summit and help the tourism industry build towards a responsible future,” Renee Areng, executive director of Explore Brookhaven, said in announcing the event. “The City of Brookhaven is very welcoming and believes everyone belongs here which makes Brookhaven the perfect backdrop for this year’s discussion on embracing community diversity to expand tourism.”

Among the organizations involved are the Southeast Tourism Society; the Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus; the Georgia Department of Economic Development; the Alabama Tourism Department; the Louisiana Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus; the Louisiana Travel Association; and the Mississippi Tourism Association.

Among those presenting and sharing best practices are leaders from Explore Brookhaven; the City of Atlanta; the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce in Ellijay, Georgia; Visit Henry County, Georgia. Representative of convention and visitors bureaus from around the region are also expected to attend.