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Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, is continuing its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by supporting small minority-owned local businesses and working to further expose students of color to hospitality careers.

"As we look at rebuilding the tourism and hospitality industry that has been severely impacted during the pandemic, we need to do so equitably," said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, President and CEO, DDC. "We're always focused on how tourism supports local, small businesses, as well as the image of our industry as young people enter the workforce."

Part of DDC's commitment is the inaugural DEI Business Fellowship program, which supports local businesses owned by people of color, LGBTQ+, women and disabled persons. Fellows receive a free, one-year membership to DDC, which provides access to marketing support and networking opportunities.

"As a former hospitality professional, I know the immense global reach of DDC," said Tyra Marshall, founder of The Sales Liaison and member of the 2022 class of DEI fellows. "As a new solo entrepreneur in DC, it's an invaluable resource to access the hotels I once worked in. I'm grateful for the education and support of Destination DC and I'm honored to represent the inaugural DEI cohort."

DDC also welcomes apprentices Jamar Root and Zoe Roberts as part of an apprenticeship program through Tourism Diversity Matters, an organization focused on creating diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities at all levels of the tourism and hospitality workforce. The program engages underrepresented and ethnically diverse college students by providing hands-on experience in tourism and hospitality. DDC's Ferguson serves as board chair of the nonprofit.

"The early career professionals who are a part of the program are accomplished academically and have impressive skillsets," said Ferguson. "It's a win-win for DDC to teach them about the travel and tourism industry while providing valuable, paid experiences that can help launch their careers. There's prime opportunity especially in DC where there's a labor shortage of 21,000 jobs in hospitality due to the pandemic according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics."

Jamar Root is currently a senior at the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he serves as a student ambassador and helps advise students on internship opportunities. Jamar is also the founder and host of "The Root of Everything" sports podcast.

"I'm excited for the apprenticeship at DDC and look forward to exploring different areas of the sports and tourism industry," said Root. "I'd also like to apply my problem-solving skills and help create possibilities for others. This month, I provided insights about navigating an internship with school to college students at George Washington University. Overall, it feels great to be embraced as a team member."

Zoe Roberts is a senior at George Mason University where she is working toward a degree in Tourism & Events Management. During high school, she was a member of the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC and held a summer internship with the American Experience Foundation, DDC's official affiliated non-profit.

"Following graduation, I hope to enroll in a certification program to continue my growth as an events and tourism professional," Roberts said. "Not only will the apprenticeship program help me build new skills in developing membership, but it will provide me with valuable connections and allow me to build relationships with industry professionals."

DDC is also uniquely positioned to share with visitors Washington, DC's history and experiences connected with racial and social equity. Launched in 2021, the "DEI District" provides curated content focused on how DC can be experienced through a DEI lens. The pillars include visit, engage, learn and meet, while connecting to content related to leisure, meetings and education audiences to help promote the unique history and experiences in DC.

Learn more at Destination DC.

Courtesy of Groups Today.

 Photo courtesy of Destination DC and Tourism Diversity Matters.

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