Inclusivity has become a crucial benchmark for success across most industries.
So what makes a destination inclusive?
An inclusive destination is one that embraces diversity and ensures equal access and opportunities for all travellers, regardless of background or abilities.
It promotes accessibility, cultural sensitivity, and anti-discrimination policies to create a welcoming and enriching experience for everyone.
In short, inclusive destinations celebrate diversity and provide equal access to all, offering an enriching experience for every visitor.
And, especially with younger generations gaining more economic influence and tourism appealing to a wide age demographic, there’s never been a better time to ensure your destination is an inclusive one.
Particularly given with heightened awareness, there’s a greater demand for destination inclusivity in response to travellers’ expectations.
It’s not only the right thing to do; it’s also what people are actively seeking when making travel choices.
A study by Expedia Group revealed that up to 7 in 10 consumers would choose a destination, lodging, or transportation option even if it’s more expensive than others, as long as it’s inclusive to all types of travellers.
The pressing need for inclusive tourism raises important questions by destinations looking to embark or continue on their journey to inclusivity:
Can we measure inclusivity with KPIs, and how do we ensure a place respects diversity across various dimensions?
Why should a destination be an inclusive destination?
Certainly, beyond the moral and societal benefits, inclusivity in a tourism destination brings about numerous practical advantages that make it a sound business strategy.
Let’s delve deeper into these tangible benefits:
1. Increased revenue and profitability
Embracing an inclusive approach has the power to attract a wider range of customers, which, in turn, can drive increased revenue for businesses operating within the destination.
For instance, according to statistics quoted on Skift, it is estimated that the LGBTQ+ community worldwide has a spending power of 3.9 trillion dollars in the global economy every year. In the United States, the community spends almost $100 billion, which amounts to roughly 10% of its purchasing power, on travel.
Overall, a diverse customer base leads to a surge in bookings, higher occupancy rates, and elevated demand for products and services, all culminating in enhanced profitability.
2. Destination sustainability
Inclusivity often goes hand-in-hand with sustainability initiatives. By promoting responsible tourism practices, destinations can reduce their environmental impact and operating costs, ensuring long-term sustainability.
3. Tourist satisfaction
Satisfied tourists are more likely to leave positive reviews and recommendations, further enhancing the destination’s reputation. Inclusivity can contribute to high levels of visitor satisfaction, benefiting both businesses and the destination as a whole.
4. Competitive edge
In a highly competitive tourism industry, destinations that prioritise inclusivity gain a distinct competitive advantage. They stand out as more appealing and forward-thinking, drawing in visitors seeking a welcoming and accommodating experience.
5. Repeat business and loyalty
Inclusive destinations tend to foster greater customer loyalty. When visitors have positive experiences, they are more likely to return and recommend the destination to others, leading to repeat business and organic growth.
6. Risk mitigation and destination resilience
A broad customer base offers resilience against unforeseen challenges.
By diversifying their customer base, tourism destinations reduce their vulnerability to external factors, such as economic downturns, political instability, or shifts in traveller preferences.
7. Partnership opportunities
Businesses in inclusive destinations often find it easier to establish partnerships with organisations that share similar values. This can lead to collaborations, sponsorships, and promotional opportunities that further enhance the destination’s visibility and appeal.
8. Local economic development
A thriving tourism sector leads to local economic development, creating jobs, and benefiting the local businesses — leading to a more robust and resilient community.
9. Cultural enrichment
Inclusive destinations often invest in preserving and promoting their unique cultural heritage. This enriches the overall visitor experience, making it more memorable and educational, which can lead to higher visitor spending.
Inclusivity in tourism destinations isn’t just a matter of doing what’s right; it’s a smart business strategy that brings about tangible economic benefits.
By welcoming a diverse array of visitors, destinations can position themselves for long-term success and growth in an increasingly competitive global tourism market.
It’s a win-win for all.
What makes a destination an inclusive destination?
An inclusive destination is characterised by a set of key attributes that collectively create an environment where all travellers, regardless of their background, abilities, or characteristics, feel genuinely welcomed and valued.
Here are the fundamental traits that make a destination truly inclusive:
Inclusive destinations prioritise accessibility, ensuring that their physical infrastructure, transportation systems, and facilities are designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
This includes features like wheelchair ramps, Braille signage, and sensory accommodations.
2. Cultural sensitivity
Embracing diverse cultures and traditions is at the heart of inclusivity.
Inclusive destinations actively celebrate local customs and practices, encouraging respectful engagement between travellers and local communities.
3. Diversity and representation
Reflecting diversity in every aspect of the destination is a hallmark of inclusivity.
This includes showcasing diverse communities in marketing materials, having a diverse workforce, and offering activities that cater to a wide range of visitor interests.
4. Anti-discrimination policies
Implementing policies and practices that prohibit discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and more are at the heart of building inclusive destinations. These policies create an environment where everyone feels respected and valued.
5. Community involvement
Engaging the local community in decision-making processes and sharing the economic benefits of tourism with them is a core component of inclusivity.
This includes providing employment opportunities, ensuring fair wages, and supporting local businesses.
6. Visitor education
Promoting responsible tourism practices to travellers and motivating them to reduce their environmental and cultural footprint encompasses various aspects, all of which contribute to creating a more inclusive destination.
Tourists are guided on how to engage with local communities and respect their customs.
7. Continuous improvement
Inclusive destinations view inclusivity as an ongoing journey. They actively seek feedback from visitors and the local community to adapt and improve their strategies continually.
8. Sustainable tourism
Sustainability and inclusivity share a strong connection, making responsible tourism practises an integral feature of inclusive destinations. The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals within the 2030 Agenda stress that sustainability encompasses more than just green initiatives and recycling. It also involves conducting operations while upholding principles like gender equality (SDG 5) and reduced inequality (SDG 10).
These practices are centred on reducing adverse impacts on the environment, culture, and society while optimising the benefits. Inclusive destinations proactively advocate for responsible tourism, working to minimise bias and ensuring that all travellers are treated with fairness and respect.
What’s the real impact of LGBTQ+ inclusive campaigns on the perception of a travel location?
Download our FREE report The Impact of LGBTQ+ Social Actions and Marketing on Destination Perception to discover how cities and regions in the UK, Spain, Denmark, and Italy stood out in recent years for their LGBTQ+ friendly initiatives.
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KPIs to measure destination inclusivity
In today’s world, global organisations like the World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations World Tourism Organization, and others are placing a strong emphasis on supporting territories in their journey to understand and align with the 17 Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda.
These goals are all about making our planet more sustainable, inclusive, and eco-friendly.
However, when it comes to certifications in the tourism industry, we often see that they are mainly issued by private entities or are in the form of self-certifications.
This is where Data Appeal steps in with a game-changer – having, so far, two KPIs that can be used to measure destination inclusivity.
Data Appeal also brings in an LGBTQ+ index to evaluate how welcoming and inclusive your destination is from a gender inclusivity perspective.
Developed with Sonders&Beach, this index allows you to compare your results against competitors and implement strategies to become a more LGBTQ+ friendly and inclusive destination.
By considering all these aspects, Data Appeal’s comprehensive approach aims to make tourism destinations not only sustainable but also welcoming and diverse. This not only benefits the destinations themselves but also attracts a wider range of travellers and contributes positively to the local community.
Such initiatives are key to shaping the future of the tourism industry, making it more responsible, and ensuring it meets the needs of a diverse global community.
“To be sustainable, one must also be inclusive, and to be a sustainable destination, it’s necessary to be inclusive as well.”
Mirko Lalli, Founding CEO at Data Appeal
The Destination Sustainability Index
The Destination Sustainability Index (DSI) is crafted to assess and benchmark the impact of your sustainability initiatives and practices in your tourism destination, which also includes your inclusivity efforts.
Developed in collaboration with Sonders and Beach, the DSI is firmly rooted in the framework of the 17 SDGs and the European Tourism Indicators System (ETIS).
To create this index, Data Appeal leverages an extensive data pool, including satellite imagery, third-party data sources, national education reports, and official transportation statistics.
The index evaluates four core dimensions of tourism sustainability:
- Environment: How eco-friendly is your destination? Are you taking steps to protect your natural surroundings and minimise your environmental footprint?
- Economy: Is your destination promoting economic growth and creating opportunities for the local community through sustainable tourism?
- Society: What is your destination doing to support and engage with the local community, preserving culture and heritage, and enhancing the overall quality of life for residents and visitors?
- Governance: How effectively are you managing your tourism destination? Are you adopting responsible policies and practices?
The index is available for destinations of any size – country, region, city, neighbourhood – and can be accessed via API, data pack or report.
By integrating, communicating and measuring the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives, businesses and destinations can improve the quality of life, protect the environment and ecosystems and preserve natural resources for years to come.
Enhance your destination inclusivity with Data Appeal
It’s clear that inclusivity is a cornerstone of success in the travel industry.
By harnessing data, such as the ones provided by Data Appeal, destinations can actively work on improving their inclusivity.
And as we’ve seen, inclusivity goes beyond ethics; it’s a driver of tourism prosperity.
Embark on this journey, leverage the potential of data, and guarantee that all travellers feel valued and welcome in the destinations they visit.
Is inclusivity a core value of your destination?
Benchmark and measure your progress while gaining crucial insights for smarter decision-making, all geared towards fostering inclusivity in your destination.
Reach out to us today for more details.