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Diversity, inclusion in tourism take center stage

Discover the Palm Beaches' Arts and Tourism Summit on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion on Aug. 12, 2021.jpg
Posted at 4:10 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 18:26:42-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Tourism leaders from around the country and more than 100 tourism partners gathered in Palm Beach County on Thursday for an arts and equity summit.

Inside the Palm Beach County Convention Center, class was in session.

"It's all about creating and advancing the conversation about race, equity, and diversity and how we need to address issues in our organization," said Jorge Pesquera, president of Discover the Palm Beaches.

This was the first ever Arts and Tourism Summit on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Discover the Palm Beaches' 38-year history.

"Culture and arts are such an incredible way to bring people together and that means people of all races, creeds and ethnicities," said Dave Lawrence, president of the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County.

Lawrence's team helped organize the two-day event for business leaders in the hospitality industry.

"So hat we are welcoming all residents, all visitors to explore and be a part of the arts and culture community here is Palm Beach County," Lawrence said.

President of Destination DC and Former chairman of the U.S. Travel Association Elliot Ferguson served as a keynote speaker.

"As we look at destination management organizations there are over 700. Nationwide there are less than 10 that are run by people of color, which is a problem. So, as you look at tourism as an industry, we can say that yes there is a lot of diversity, but as you look at the period there’s not a lot at the top," Ferguson said.

For Holly Stewart, the executive director of Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, this is an opportunity for growth. She said the group is mainly children of color.

"We try to encourage the children to learn more about each other because it really enhances their skillsets and their talents. But primarily we are also trying to teach good citizenship and life skills and that’s actually more important than the performance itself," Stewart said.