More and more companies and organizations are ramping up their diversity and inclusion efforts. The San Diego Tourism Authority, the non-profit corporation with a mission to drive visitor demand to San Diego, is one of them.
Earlier this month, SDTA launched its Tourism Accelerator pilot program. Designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the local tourism industry, it will provide free membership, mentoring, education and networking opportunities to businesses owned by people of color, LGBTQ+, women and veterans, according to Julie Coker, president and CEO of SDTA.
“The aim of this Tourism Accelerator program is to extend industry support to create real pathways to leadership for the diverse businesses in our tourism industry that shape San Diego’s vibrant cultural identity,” she said. “Now more than ever, we need people with a wide range of experiences and perspectives to help rebuild our tourism industry to ensure that it is one that provides opportunity for all.”
Co-Sponsors of the Program
Bank of America and San Diego Gas & Electric are the co-sponsors of the pilot program, which will offer participants a suite of services valued at over $10,000, according to the nonprofit. This includes: a complimentary membership for SDTA and free admission to select SDTA events; special access to SDTA senior staff, board members and program investors; coaching from a dedicated mentor who is a successful operator or owner of a tourism or hospitality business; financial coaching from Bank of America and legal training from Procopio law firm; $500 voucher for a course through UC San Diego Extension; a $1,000 credit to use on SDTA’s digital advertising platforms; and two free quarter-page ads in both the San Diego Business Journal and San Diego Magazine for those businesses that are not already advertisers.
The two corporations decided to sponsor the program because it advances equity while growing the economy.
“Tourism and hospitality are key drivers of our San Diego economy,” said Rick Bregman, president of Bank of America San Diego. “Bank of America’s investment into helping businesses led by members of disenfranchised communities such as people of color helps further our commitment to driving economic growth as well as help close racial equity gaps. With small businesses bearing much of the economic brunt of the pandemic, especially when people weren’t able to travel, it’s never felt more important to help these businesses thrive.”
Added Christy Ihrig, vice president of operations support at SDG&E;, “When diverse business enterprises in our region succeed, our entire region benefits economically and culturally. By supporting the Tourism Accelerator program we can help create a more inclusive economy and equitable economic recovery.”
Year-Long Accelerator Program
The year-long accelerator program will have an initial cohort of 10 participants, according to an SDTA spokesperson, who added that the organization is working to raise additional funds to extend and expand its offerings. To be selected, applicants must: be people of color, LGBTQ+, women or veteran-owned tourism and hospitality businesses based in the San Diego region; organizations that have operated for at least one year to qualify; and be a business in categories such as restaurants, retail, activities and attractions, museums, transportation and meeting and event services and not an accommodation, airline or cruise line. Current or former Members of the San Diego Tourism Authority or affiliate organizations are not eligible.
The deadline to apply for the Tourism Accelerator pilot program is Nov. 5. Those selected will be notified by Nov. 15. A diverse panel will review the applications while also considering the viability of the business model, business needs and commitment to community service as part of the selection process, according to the SDTA.
San Diego Tourism Authority
PRESIDENT/CEO: Julie Coker
BUSINESS: Non-profit corporation with a mission to drive visitor demand to economically benefit San Diego.
NOTABLE: San Diego is one of the top 10 meeting and visitor destination in the nation