Hurtigruten Creates Black Traveler Advisory Board to Improve Inclusivity in Expedition Cruising

Hurtigruten Group has launched the Black Traveler Advisory Board (BTAB), a newly appointed group of travel professionals whose focus is increasing visibility and inclusivity of the Black traveler in the expedition cruising industry. The official announcement came from Antarctica, where the group (shown in the photo above) is currently sailing onboard Hurtigruten Expeditions’ Roald Amundsen, the world's first battery-hybrid ship. The BTAB is participating in an Antarctica itinerary to become more familiar with a core expedition cruising product.

BTAB is one of Hurtigruten Group's many Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, designed to improve visibility of Black travelers and travel professionals within the cruise industry. Created and spearheaded by Anders Lindstrom, Hurtigruten Group's head of PR and communications for the Americas, the BTAB was created to provide the company with the intelligence and tools needed to better reach, engage with and position its expedition products to the Black traveler. This will influence future initiatives as well as help reach more consumer groups and communities traditionally not included in strategic marketing campaigns. The six members of the advisory board include entrepreneurs, travel advisors, heads of tourism organizations and community influencers, all tapped into the industry's latest trends and subsequent needs of the Black traveler.

Designed to Drive Change

"The Black Traveler Advisory Board will not only help advance Hurtigruten Expeditions' inclusivity goals, but ultimately, it will help drive change within the entire cruise industry," says Lindstrom. "We are honored that these incredible leaders within their fields will work with us to drive visibility, identify opportunities within the Black travel movement, and help achieve some of our tangible goals."

Those goals include identifying Black scientists as potential lecturers onboard Hurtigruten's ships, attracting more expedition leaders of color, learning more about unsung Black explorers that can be incorporated into the company's expedition cruise itineraries, improving written and visual communications and marketing materials and amplifying career opportunities through the board members' networks.

"At Hurtigruten Group, we want to attract a more diverse guest base by reaching those who may not have previously considered our products as an option for a vacation," adds Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten Group. We welcome all explorers to share our love for adventure, nature, and the planet. The more diverse we are as a company, the better the guest experience will be and the better our workforce will be too."

Lineup of BTAB Members

Here's a snapshot look at the new BTAB members: 

Stephanie M. Jones, MBA, Chair of the BTAB: Jones is the founder and CEO of the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA). She's also founder of Black Cultural Heritage Tours and the National Blacks in Travel & Tourism Collaborative. She also serves on the United States Department of Commerce’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and the Future of Tourism Coalition Advisory Board.

Kareem George: A  national director-at-large for the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), George is founder and principal of Culture Traveler, LLC, a boutique luxury travel company that focuses on unique experiences centered around arts, culture, and cuisine. He's also on the Signature Travel Network Luxury Committee.

Naledi Khabo: Serving as CEO, Africa Tourism Association, Khabo is also co-founder of Travel is Better in Color, a platform celebrating diverse storytelling and storytellers across the travel industry, and co-founder of the Collective, a global group of Black travel writers, reporters, publicists, magazine owners, TV personalities and industry Leader.

Martinique Lewis: Co-founder and president of the Black Travel Alliance, Lewis is also the creator of the ABC Travel Greenbook and the Diversity in Travel Scorecard. Recently named one of the “Most influential people in travel” by Travel + Leisure. Lewis is on the Condé Nast Traveler Advisory Board, and is also the Influencer Manager for NYC&Company.

Rue Mapp: Founder and CEO of the national not-for-profit Outdoor Afro, Mapp was named a National Geographic fellow in 2029. She sits on both the Wilderness Society and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership boards. Appointed by California's governor, she chairs the California State Park and Recreation Commission,

Patricia Yarbrough: In 1978, Yarbrough opened Blue World Travel, and she serves as its president. In 1992, Yarbrough created the award-winning travel program "Festival at Sea," tailored for the African American cruise traveler. In 1998, she launched Friends of Festival at Sea, created for African Americans who wanted to expand their horizons and explore the world. Due to scheduling conflicts, Yarbrough was not able to join the Antarctica launch cruise for BTAB, so Blue World Travel was represented by Anthony Gould, marketing director.

Other Benefits

Visibility is a key component of marketing to the Black traveler, and as part of their appointment to the board, BTAB members will participate as guests on select Hurtigruten departures that include Antarctica. In addition, board members will be among the first to experience Hurtigruten Expedition's new West Africa cruises launching this fall.

Additionally, each member receives a fee for the duration of their engagement, with $5,000 also going to the organization or non-profit of their choice that works to benefit and empower Black travelers or the Black travel industry. As such, Hurtigruten Group has donated to the Black Travel Alliance, the Collective, the National Blacks in Travel & Tourism Collaborative, Outdoor Afro, Spelman College Gordon Zeto Center for Global Education, and the American Society of Travel Advisors.(ASTA), funding professional development opportunities for Black travel advisors.

Hurtigruten Group says that more DEI initiatives (both internal and external projects), will be announced in the coming months. 

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