Hurtigruten Group Announces Black Traveler Advisory Board to Encourage More Inclusivity in Expedition Cruising

Hurtigruten Group's new Black Traveler Advisory Board, in Antarctica, from left: Naledi Khabo, Stephanie M. Jones, Kareem George, Rue Mapp, Martinique Lewis, and Anthony Gould  (March 2022)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 comes from Antarctica, where the group is currently sailing onboard Hurtigruten Expeditions’ renowned “MS Roald Amundsen”, the world’s first battery-hybrid ship. The BTAB is participating in one of the cruise line’s signature Antarctica itineraries with the goal of becoming more familiar with a core expedition cruising product.

BTAB is one of Hurtigruten Group’s many Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which includes improving the visibility of Black travelers and travel professionals within the cruise industry. The BTAB was created to provide the company with the intelligence and tools to better reach, engage with, and position its products to the Black traveler. The creation and ongoing work of the board will inform how Hurtigruten Group approaches future initiatives and is designed to reach even more consumer groups and communities that have traditionally been left out of strategic marketing campaigns.

The BTAB was created and is spearheaded by Anders Lindström, Hurtigruten Group’s Head of PR and Communications for the Americas, whose decade-long career in the travel and airline industries is anchored by award-winning communications and diversity and inclusion initiatives. He is also on the inaugural advisory board of the Black Travel Alliance for 2022.

“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. 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. These include identifying Black scientists as potential lecturers onboard our 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 both our written and visual communications and marketing materials, and amplifying career opportunities through their networks,” said Lindström.

“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. 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, so I would like to wish the Black Traveler Advisory Board a safe and memorable trip as they enjoy their first voyage to Antarctica with Hurtigruten Expeditions,” added Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten Group.

The six members of the advisory board include entrepreneurs, travel advisors, heads of tourism organizations, and true community influencers, all tapped into the industry’s latest trends and subsequent needs of the Black traveler.

Stephanie M. Jones, MBA, Chair of the BTAB. Jones is the Founder and CEO of the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc. (CHEA), Founder of Black Cultural Heritage Tours, and the National Blacks in Travel & Tourism Collaborative. Jones serves on the United States Department of Commerce’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Northstar Travel Group’s Black Travel Advisory Board, Newsweek’s Future of Travel Awards Advisory Panel, and the Future of Tourism Coalition Advisory Board.

Kareem George, Founder and Principal of Culture Traveler, LLC, a boutique luxury travel company focused on unique experiences centered around arts, culture, and cuisine. A National Director At-Large, American Society of Travel Advisors, he also serves on the Travel + Leisure Travel Advisory Board, Signature Travel Network Luxury Committee, and the Travel Market Report Editorial Advisory Board.

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

Martinique Lewis, Co-Founder and President of the Black Travel Alliance. Creator of the ABC Travel Greenbook and the Diversity in Travel Scorecard. Recently named one of the “Most influential people in travel” by both Travel + Leisure and Travelpulse. 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. In 2019, Mapp was named a National Geographic fellow, and in 2021, an AFAR Travel Vanguard Honoree. She sits on both the Wilderness Society and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership boards and is the chair of the California State Park and Recreation Commission by appointment of the Governor.

Patricia Yarbrough, President of Blue World Travel, which she opened in 1978. 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, and Blue World Travel was represented by their Marketing Director, Anthony Gould.

More than just a group from which Hurtigruten Group distills information (like many other advisory boards), members of the BTAB serve as a group of ambassadors and active members of the expedition cruising community. Visibility is a key component of marketing to the Black traveler, and as part of their appointment to the board, members participate as guests on select Hurtigruten departures that include Antarctica, and the board 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 ASTA, funding professional development opportunities for Black Travel Advisors that are active with the American Society of Travel Advisors.

The Black Traveler Advisory Board is part of Hurtigruten Group’s DEI initiatives, which includes both internal and external projects. More DEI initiatives will be announced in the coming months.

(Hurtigruten)

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