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Top Industry Leaders Back New Tourism Diversity Initiative

Frances Ferrante
Mike Gamble, CEO of SearchWide Global
Mike Gamble, CEO of SearchWide Global

ST. PAUL — A new group of travel industry heavy-hitters are putting their weight behind one of the industry’s most pressing goals: diversity. Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM) will rely on a collective model to inspire authenticity and inclusive leadership throughout the tourism and events industry. Its goal is to work together with other industry associations such as Destinations International and PCMA to effect real change; in fact, many leaders from those organizations are on its board.

TDM is headed up by Founder Mike Gamble, CEO of SearchWide Global, and Chairman of the Board Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO, Destination DC, who just wrapped up their first board meeting the first week of March. Many initiatives are still in the planning stages, but the group’s work will be guided by four pillars: Apprenticeship Programs; Workforce Development; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Research and Data.

Related. Diversity and Inclusion: This Time Feels Different

At a time when so many employees in this industry have been displaced by the pandemic, TDM is already creating real job opportunities through its apprenticeship program, said Gamble. “We are in active discussions with several partners and we expect to have three to five apprentices in place by early summer, likely within the tourism and sports tracks. Not only does this program provide significant experience (600 hours) with three designated partners, but there is guaranteed employment at the end.”

Related. Navigating Diversity: Gestures Are Not Enough

The TDM inaugural board includes many of the top leaders in the meetings, events and exhibition industry, including Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX; Mark Cooper, CEO, International Association of Conference Centers (IACC); Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council (EIC) ; Roger Dow, President and CEO, US Travel Association; Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO, PCMA; and Paul M. VanDeventer, President and CEO, Meeting Professionals International (MPI), along with leaders from DMOs, universities, cruise lines and hotel companies, and more. See the complete list of board members here.

Related. Courage in Conversation: How Events Industry Leaders Are Stepping Up to Make Meaningful Change About Race

Founding partners are SearchWide Global, Conference Direct and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Reach Mike Gamble at or (651) 308-1115.


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