Recovery Project/Plan

Better Your Business | Tourism Diversity Program

Submitted ByEconomic Development Department - City of Vaughan

The Tourism Vaughan Corporation (TVC) identified the need to assist in fostering a more inclusive tourism experience for both visitors and workforce alike. Post-COVID, the tourism industry in Vaughan has experienced a labour crisis and an overall reduction in tourism-related traffic. Additionally, TVC has recognized a lack of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEI&A) across these sectors. The TVC created the ‘Better Your Business | Tourism Diversity Program’ (BYB) as an initiative to address these concerns.

BYB paired an industry expert and consultant – with lived experience as a person from a marginalized community – with a tourism operator to help them develop a strategic plan centered around accessible, BIPOC, and/or 2sLGBTQIA+ travel and tourism. The plan gave tangible recommendations on how the business could improve DEI&A within its organization in the short and medium term. Alongside the strategic planning process, operators were able to participate in a full-day DEI&A conference organized by the TVC and hosted by a team of consultants curated specifically to address DEI&A in the tourism industry. Participants received an opening and closing group plenary, three focused sessions from Journeys in Equity, Black in Hospitality, and Joe Baker & Co. that gave situational concepts specific to the tourism and hospitality industry, and a customized resource toolkit. Sessions were also recorded and made available virtually and the toolkit is downloadable for any additional interested participants.

BYB helped the operator (and by extension, the city) to address both DEI&A and labour/visitor shortage concerns by creating a tourism and hospitality industry more inclusive for visitors and staff. The program saw the implementation of 17 custom strategic DEI&A plans for local tourism operators and stakeholders.

The program was met with positive recognition through participant feedback. A common response was that the program was a “game changer” in how it provided “awareness and actionable plans towards making [their] business[es] more accessible and equitable for customers and employees”. Specifically, BYB has made an impact through the following program participants:

  1. Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer (affiliate of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation): This organization has moved to diversify their executive committee as a result of participating in BYB. They have put out a call to fill two new Board of Governor positions by either ethnically diverse community members and/or women & non-binary groups. BYB helped them to identify a “lack of diversity on [their] committee” and that they “need voices from different backgrounds”.
  2. Kortright Centre for Conservation: BYB has aided their overall DEI&A efforts, which focuses on 8 separate programs that have key milestones identified over a 10-year span. The scope of this initiative may impact roughly 50% or half of the TRCA’s (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority) broader efforts.
  3. The Dance Together Festival: In partnership with the York Region Arts Council, the Festival is a non-profit founded on initiatives that applied solely to able-bodied individuals. BYB inspired the organization to reimagine their objectives to be more inclusive and diverse.
  4. Assembly Park Block Party: An initiative hosted/run by QuadReal. In addition to the impact on the Block Party, BYB will leave a legacy impact by providing a DEI&A implementation measurement for other festivals and events that use their venue.

Panel Discussion:

Accessibility Session: