Tourism Cares Celebrates 20 Years
Leading travel industry non-profit Tourism Cares is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, marking two decades of impact programming in the sustainable tourism space. In celebration, the theme of Tourism Cares' anniversary year is one of unity, collaboration and a shared vision for the future.
Tourism Cares, begun by the merging of USTOA's Travelers Conservation Foundation and NTA's National Tour Foundation, became an independent non-profit in 2003. Marked by the launch of the Tourism Cares for America give back project on Ellis Island in New York City, the event was the first of its kind, drawing more than 300 travel and tourism professionals from all sectors and segments of the industry to join together in volunteerism, uniting competitors and collaborators alike.
"In the beginning, Tourism Cares was unlike any organization that existed in travel," said Bruce Beckham, founding Executive Director of Tourism Cares. "For the first time, we met on an even playing field where giving back was our great equalizer. The goal for all was to leave a positive impact on the local community or historic site and at the same time create real and genuine business connections through the collaborative effort. That was the icing on the cake for attendees. We started a movement that day on Ellis Island in 2003 that has propelled us around the world and continues to be the inspiration for Tourism Cares—being a force where the entire industry can gather, united in purpose."
Since that historic day on Ellis Island, Tourism Cares has become an organization committed to addressing some of the world's greatest challenges. Through events and programs focused on the social, environmental, and economic well-being of tourism communities, Tourism Cares has been moving the needle in the sustainable tourism space.
In the U.S., Peru, Jordan, Colombia and Canada, Tourism Cares has brought together tourism and travel companies, inspiring them to use their businesses to better serve the destinations to which they send their customers. Other major achievements of Tourism Cares include absorbing the scholarship programs of IATAN, the International Air Transport Association Network, and ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, in 2006; launching the Destination Disaster Recovery Grant Program in 2016; and launching the Diversity in Tourism Grant Fund in 2021.
"To have been at Ellis Island and involved with this organization for 20 years is a highlight of my career," said Greg Takehara, CEO of Tourism Cares. "Tourism Cares represents the people and places of travel, dedicated to the people and places of travel. It has always been that way and will continue to be. We were born from volunteerism and now, we set the course for our industry's sustainability journey through convening, education and training.
"We will never stop rolling up our sleeves to do the work necessary. Our experiences are collaborative, meaningful and inspiring, and most importantly demonstrate the need for all sectors of our industry to come together. We will forge ahead in the next 20 years and continue to protect the assets that are at the center of the travel experience. It is critical for us to do so, together."
To celebrate such a milestone, Tourism Cares will launch special programming this year in the spirit of industry collaboration with new partners. For the first time in Europe, Tourism Cares will host its Tourism Cares with Norway Meaningful Travel Summit in partnership with Innovation Norway and USTOA's Sustainability is Responsibility (SIR) event. In October, Tourism Cares will launch a new event, The Power of Partnership Stewardship Summit, with three partners: The Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, The Travel Foundation, and the US Cultural and Heritage Marketing Council.
The anniversary year will also see additions to the Tourism Cares Board of Directors, with Malia Asfour, long-time friend, supporter and driving force behind Tourism Cares' global program, taking the reins as the new Chair. As the Director of the Jordan Tourism Board North America, Malia has been foundational in launching Tourism Cares' programmatic work to a global scale, hosting the Tourism Cares with Jordan Meaningful Travel Summit in 2018.
"I have been a supporter of Tourism Cares since its inception and believe in the mission to foster sustainable tourism development through meaningful travel around the world," Asfour said. "The growth of this organization globally, primarily through the development of the Meaningful Travel Map, has helped local communities benefit from tourism dollars, leaving a direct economic impact in these destinations. I worked with Tourism Cares on the development of the Meaningful Travel Map of Jordan and Colombia and the impact left behind on the people we met proves that tourism can be a force for good. I am thrilled to sit as Chair of Tourism Cares, where those programs will continue to grow with the help of an experienced and passionate Board of Directors."
Tourism Cares also shared its Executive Committee:
- Shayna Zand, Head of Partnerships, We Travel, Vice Chair I
- Bryan Kinkade, Publisher, AFAR, Vice Chair II
- Reagan Stulbaum, VP, Membership Borough Relations & Tourism Ready, NYC and Company, Secretary
- Martha Troncoza, PhD Candidate, Kennesaw State University Coles College of Business, Treasurer
Additionally, new board members have joined to support Tourism Cares in its vision moving forward: Matt Berna, Managing Director, North America, Intrepid Travel; Ken Shapiro, VP and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, TravelAge West; Carylann Assante, CEO, SYTA; and Julian Guerrero Orozco, Former Vice Minister of Tourism of Colombia/Regenerative Nature Tourism Expert.
Tourism Cares encourages all travel industry professionals, and lovers of travel, to reach out to join them in celebrating what's ahead. To learn more, visit Tourism Cares.
Courtesy of Groups Today.