Travel Notebook

Why Diversity and Inclusion Is Essential to the Travel Industry

Guest Blogger: Jeannette Ceja of ‘Jet Set with Jeannette’

In 2019, I feel it’s a vital time for more diversity and inclusion, especially in the travel industry. I have a vivid memory from just six years old. I was watching an episode of Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel and realized that I wanted to host a travel show in the future. And yet, at that very moment, I thought, “But I don’t look like her.”

Fast forward almost 25 years … I can’t believe that one limited belief almost stopped me from pursuing my dream altogether. Years later, I interviewed Samantha Brown and had a chance to thank her for paving the way for more women. My journey to date has been a career in other industries, including news, sports and entertainment. However, I always kept a journal and wrote about travel over the years. 

Jeanette in Romania

As an active board member for Travel Unity, I work hard to show up and be a positive role model for the Latino community. I grew up in a household with both Mexican and American cultures. My parents came to the United States from Mexico in the 1980s; my siblings and I were born and raised in Southern California. I’m grateful that I can represent both cultures as we “Mexican-Americans” are also often referred to as “Chicanos.”

Diversity and inclusion continue to be important topics in which everyone can play a role, from individual travelers, brands, media, airlines, cruises, hotels and tourism boards to travel professionals. A recent article by Business Insider showed statistics that by 2045 “the United States as a whole is projected to become majority-minority.”

But who exactly is speaking to this demographic? For example, who are the leaders in travel that are representing the Latino population? As time passes the need to have this conversation only grows stronger. A U.S. Census Bureau study in 2018, revealed there are an estimated 58.9 million Hispanic people living in the United States. Not only are statistics showing the growing population, but also their immense spending power. An article by Forbes shared that Hispanics have $1.7 trillion in purchasing power.

This year, I was a speaker at the Women in Travel Summit with a reporter, Sarah Enelow-Snyder, from Skift. Our panel was on “Building an Inclusive Travel Movement.” We shared an in-depth discussion about our professional experiences, statistics and short-term and long-term solutions for a more inclusive travel industry. 

Building an Inclusive Travel Movement – Jeanette with Sarah Enelow-Snyder in Women in Travel Summit

Moving forward, there’s a lot of positive outlook for growth. For example, Lake Placid in the Adirondacks was the host for the 4th Annual Travel Unity Summit-Economic Development Through Diversity in New York. There was a great representation of locals, business owners and tourism boards, including the New York State Division of Tourism. If you’ve ever experienced an exciting time to be a woman or a minority, now is the time. Let’s keep this conversation going.

Q&A with Jeannette Ceja

In one of your interviews, you say that you like to ask the following three questions of others in the travel industry. Let’s turn the tables and ask those questions of you (and a few of our own):

Why is travel so important to you?

When I was just six months old, I was already traveling to Mexico with my parents and siblings. Growing up I would religiously watch the Travel Channel, History Channel and Discovery Channel. That’s when I realized the importance that travel could have on humanity. Every time I learned about a new country, I was overwhelmed by the beauty that was often overlooked in the news. I truly believe that travel helps reduce stereotypes, bigotry and disconnection between nations.

What advice would you give someone who has a big dream?

To always believe in yourself. Invest in your mindset, skillset and self-development. And find out the “why” for your dream. Also, I recommend seeking out mentors or coaches who are experts in your industry. 

What does success mean to you?  

Success means doing what you love, while helping others and getting compensated for your gifts. I believe true success happens when your work makes a positive impact and difference in others’ lives.

Do you have advice for women who are trying to jumpstart a career in travel journalism?

I would advise starting writing and taking photos as much as you can. Study the travel industry, attend travel conferences and networks.

What are your top three favorite travel destinations?

Cuba, India and France.

Where would you love to travel, but haven’t yet visited?

There are so many countries that I would still love to visit. Egypt tops my list. However, I would also still love to visit Kenya, Iceland, Thailand, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, China and Cambodia.

What up-and-coming destinations should luxury travel advisors have on their radar?

Luxembourg, Guatemala and Romania.

What do you never leave home without?

A journal, my wallet, my camera and a set of headphones.

Best travel tip for female solo travelers?

Always research the destination for the latest travel advisories and travel warnings on the U.S. Department of State website. Also, be mindful of your surroundings and don’t share that you are traveling alone with strangers.

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Meet Jeanette

Jeannette Ceja is a bilingual travel journalist, travel host, travel advisor and global public speaker based in Los Angeles. She combined her love for travel and media into an internationally recognized company known as Jet Set with Jeannette.

As the go-to travel expert for high-profile clients and media outlets around the world, Jeannette’s expertise encompasses luxury travel, female travel and diversity (Latina) travel.

This year, Jeannette was recognized as one of the Top 20 Global Women of Excellence by Congressman Danny K. Davis and the Multi-Ethnic Advisory Task at the 7th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration. Her latest nomination was by the Los Angeles Business Journal for the Women’s Council & Awards, which took place on June 20, 2019.

Jeanette among Top 20 Global Women of Excellence by Congressman Danny K. Davis and the Multi-Ethnic Advisory Task

In 2018, Jeannette was the official travel host for the World Woman Summit at the Clinton Presidential Center, where she was recognized as Travel Host of the Year. A respected speaker, Jeannette has spoken at conferences all over the world, including The Women in Travel Summit, The New York Travel Festival, Tourism in Romania Conference, Impact Travel Immersion Conference, Epic Mastermind Conference, Travel Talks and the Travel Unity-Economic Development through Diversity Summit.

She’s been an emcee for the New York Travel Festival and the Impact Travel Immersion Global Conference. Now, Jeannette’s on the Board of Advisors for Travel Unity. An inspirational motivator, she created a series of sold-out workshops for female solo travelers and on Vision Boards. Jeannette was named a Power Player of 2018 by Angeleno Magazine. 

Jeannette is a proud Global Ambassador for Synergy of Empowered Women, Kind Traveler and the Free Wheelchair Mission. A passion for travel has taken her to over 60 countries to date. Jeannette is a sought-after travel expert for media and conferences all over the world.