In an industry that is around 82% white and mostly made up of retired women, there are many barriers to entry for People of Color. Work is seasonal, often part-time and requires a lot of flexibility to travel. Training to get certified is also very expensive, and as Leon highlights: “In the Black society, Black individuals don’t always have that choice.”
Providing students with cost-effective tourism training programs is a key focus of the Pathways Project.
“If you come through our program and graduate, you are certified and qualified to lead any kind of tour you are offered,” Leon explains.
“I came into tourism through the music industry with extensive experience, but I needed the credentials which took a lot of time and a lot of money. Then you must put your picture on the resume which often doesn’t leave People of Color at the front of the pack.
“Conscious or unconscious, there are a lot of biases in this industry. So, we’re trying to eliminate all the barriers to entry – whether it’s lack of money, training, or representation.
“Fostering entrepreneurship is also extremely important. We want people who come into our program and don’t want to be (or can’t be) a Tour Director to learn how to operate a tour company and tell their story.”