DENVER, CO – July 22, 2021 – The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) today announced it has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with Inclusive Journeys to launch the Inclusive Guide, an online community that lists safe and welcoming spaces for anyone who faces prejudice. The partnership is announced in conjunction with the release of a new training module as part of the CTO’s Colorado Concierge online training platform titled, “Inclusive Colorado Culture.” The new training module is publicly available to guide frontline hospitality workers statewide, and contains practical tips for advancing an inclusive culture and creating more welcoming experiences for diverse guests. Both initiatives follow the recommendations released earlier this year from a 30-member CTO Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group, which the CTO convened to help create a cohesive strategy to increase Colorado’s appeal to diverse travelers and advance a more inclusive culture within Colorado tourism.
“We’re excited to see the meaningful groundwork laid by the CTO’s Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group being put into action through this new partnership and training module,” said Patrick Meyers, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “This module will help guide Colorado’s frontline hospitality workers in positioning Colorado as a welcoming state to all visitors by offering an array of diverse experiences.”
Based in Denver, Colo., Inclusive Journeys was founded by two Black women with a mission to create data-driven, economic incentives for businesses to be more inclusive and welcoming, resulting in safer spaces for people who regularly experience discrimination. The Beta version of the Inclusive Guide, a website like Yelp for inclusivity, launched in the Denver community on Juneteenth with a plan to launch in other cities across the country in the future. Users of the Inclusive Guide can submit business locations they feel safe in and then rate the business on a range of attributes such as courtesy of staff, ADA compliance, sense of personal safety as it relates to their identity, gender neutral bathrooms and more. Crowd-sourced entries will populate “inclusivity reviews'' for businesses and recreation spaces.
“It is exciting to truly be at the forefront of breaking down barriers in providing meaningful guidance to businesses in becoming more aware and inclusive through this innovative partnership with Inclusive Journeys”, said Wanda James, co-chair of the CTO Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group. “The Inclusive Guide will help build relationships between local Coloradans, businesses and tourists as we work together to create a solid, loyal, and more diversified customer base.”
In partnering with Inclusive Journeys on the launch of the Inclusive Guide, businesses on Colorado.com, the CTO’s best-in-class website, will have the opportunity to earn badges that signify they are safe and welcoming to travelers, elevating awareness of the state as an open and welcoming destination that offers inspired travel experiences for all. The Inclusive Guide will also provide resources to help Colorado businesses self-audit for inclusiveness, tools to help businesses improve their inclusivity rating and referrals to Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity trainers.
“As time has gone on, ‘minority’ or ‘underrepresented’ groups have grown exponentially in size and spending power,” said Inclusive Journeys co-founders Crystal Egli and Parker McMullen Bushman. “The Inclusive Guide will be a resource for people to spend their money safely and ethically, putting money back into Colorado businesses that welcome and celebrate customers of all identities. We are so grateful to be able to partner with our home state to make our vision a reality and hope the partnership with the CTO is a model we can take to other states as we expand this important network.”
In addition to the Inclusive Journeys partnership, the CTO today also released a new training module as part of its Colorado Concierge online training platform titled, “Inclusive Colorado Culture.” The new training module is publicly available to guide frontline hospitality workers statewide, and contains practical tips for advancing an inclusive culture and creating more welcoming experiences for diverse guests. The training also introduces general Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) language and concepts, applied to Colorado tourism scenarios.
This new chapter can be accessed for free at any time on the CTO’s online training platform, BeAColoradoConcierge.com. In addition to the Inclusive Colorado Culture chapter, people can access six other chapters for free to gain knowledge on topics like traveler safety, Colorado essentials, and how to travel responsibly.
To create this new Inclusive Colorado Culture training module, the CTO engaged Annie Kao, founder of Denver-based Ascent Inclusion Consulting, to produce practical training with input from a sub-committee of stakeholders from the CTO’s Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group.
More information about Colorado’s Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group can be found on the Inclusivity in Travel webpage, with a full list of its members including state and county government representatives and a range of tourism business sectors including lodging, restaurants, outdoor recreation, arts and culture, casino, cannabis, the liquid arts and academia. The site also includes the Advisory Group’s charter for action, final report and recommendations which were endorsed by the Colorado Tourism Board in March 2021 and recordings of its sessions.