These Visionaries Are Closing Disparity Gaps in Travel Experiences

These Global Vision Awards honorees are making travel experiences more equitable and inclusive.

A tour group in front of a building in Seville, Spain
Lamar Shambley (far right) in Seville, Spain, with a Teens of Color Abroad group. Photo:

Courtesy of Lamar Shambley

The Travel + Leisure Global Vision Awards aim to identify and honor companies, individuals, destinations, and organizations that are taking strides to develop more sustainable and responsible travel products, practices, and experiences. Not only are they demonstrating thought leadership and creative problem-solving; they are taking actionable, quantifiable steps to protect communities and environments around the world. What's more, they are inspiring their industry colleagues and travelers to do their part.

Travel can be a tremendous force for positive change. Yet the biggest benefits (in every sense of the word) are too often limited to those with the most means and disposable income. The honorees in this category aim to change that by addressing key inequalities that persist throughout the industry. The first winner, Access Development Services, is determined to eradicate child labor in Jaipur while providing necessary business training and income for women in the city. The second, Lamar Shambley, has dedicated himself and his organization, Teens of Color Abroad, to creating language-learning opportunities for American BIPOC students, including study abroad trips that allow participants to put those skills into real practice. As these remarkable endeavors remind us, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make the industry more equitable and inclusive. — T+L Editors

Illustration by Hannah Davies

Access Development Services

Vibrant crafts are sought-after souvenirs for those visiting India. Sadly, in many cases, those purchases run the risk of supporting child labor, which remains present across the country. In 2020, Access Development Services, an NGO, took ownership of the Child Labour Free Project (CLFP) in Jaipur, which is known for its rich textile heritage. By equipping women in the city with skills and business-development training, CLFP hopes to eradicate the need for children to take on the burden of earning money for their families. 

Roughly 600 participants receive technical instruction on how to design and produce bags, embroidered textiles, lacquered bangles, and other items. The women can then work at the company’s production center or at home, where families are monitored to ensure children aren’t being put to work. Participants, who are all shareholders in the company, are also provided with business education so that they can, in the long term, run these companies as independently and sustainably as possible. — Chadner Navarro

Lamar Shambley with a group of teen study-abroad students
Lamar Shambley and his nonprofit, Teens of Color Abroad, works to address racial gaps in foreign-language learning and study-abroad participation.

Courtesy of Lamar Shambley

Lamar Shambley, Teens of Color Abroad 

As a Brooklyn-born Black student learning Spanish, Lamar Shambley always dreamed of traveling overseas. But when he spent a semester of college in 2009 studying the language in Seville, he had a disappointing realization: “I didn’t see many American students who looked like me.”

That trip inspired him to become a high school Spanish teacher in New York City. “I wanted to stand in front of kids who came from the same neighborhood and get them excited about learning languages,” he says. In 2018, he created Teens of Color Abroad (TOCA), a nonprofit that works to address racial gaps in foreign-language learning and study-abroad participation. Since its launch, the program has sponsored first-time U.S. passports for 20 high- school-age students and provided more than $100,000 in scholarships. 

Shambley didn’t allow the pandemic to slow him down. In 2020, he partnered with NaTakallam, a company that hires refugees and displaced persons as tutors and translators, to create TOCA Online, a digital language-learning and cultural-exchange portal. It connects U.S. teens of color with refugees across the world and offers virtual activities from cooking classes to DJ showcases. “Our students are going to make a profound impact on their communities and the world,” Shambley says. — Tom Vanderbilt

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