Visit Baltimore has launched its new Warm Welcome Program to create an inclusive environment for all visitors. The program aims to establish the city as a top destination for all people, regardless of race, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, disability, and more.
“When it comes to travel in the United States, the reality is that there are still destinations where many individuals feel unwelcome while visiting,” said Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “We believe Baltimore can and should be a top destination for a diverse array of travelers, no matter who you are or where you come from. Visit Baltimore wants the world to know that our city’s tourism and hospitality community is committed to supporting and embracing diversity, equity and inclusion.”
With the Warm Welcome Program, Visit Baltimore is encouraging local hotels, restaurants, attractions, and other businesses to sign an online pledge committing to train their staff and stakeholders to use supportive, affirming language; inspire proactive allyship; encourage productive dialogue about race and bias; and foster active listening and learning. Upon signing the pledge, participants will receive a link to an exclusive training video created specifically for the tourism and hospitality community in Baltimore. The training is presented by Visit Baltimore and DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusivity) expert Dr. Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., founding director of The Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice on the campus of Loyola University Maryland and host of “Today with Dr. Kaye” on WEAA 88.9 FM.
“We are in a moment where we must take up and answer the most persistent questions around the ways in which equity and diversity intersect within a city that wants to be seen as both inclusive and welcoming,” said Dr. Whitehead. “This is a moment the city to step forward and take the lead on these conversations. I am delighted to partner with Visit Baltimore to provide the diversity training and policy recommendations for how we, as a city and as individuals, can move forward. For far too long in this country, there has been a concern that the American story does not include all voices and perspectives. The work Visit Baltimore is doing is designed to challenge those beliefs, to expand the American story, and to make a place for everyone to be invited to the table.”
Once an organization completes the training with their entire staff, Visit Baltimore will provide a Warm Welcome kit that includes a window cling and other display items to show visitors they are seen and respected in that place of business. Additional DEI training modules will be provided on an ongoing basis as appropriate, especially to smaller businesses without the resources to fund their own initiatives.
“Tourism is a key part of our economy and central to Baltimore’s recovery,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “I’m thrilled to support Visit Baltimore’s Warm Welcome Program to promote diversity and inclusion in our city.”