5th Annual Travel Unity Summit

“Cultivating Welcoming Communities”

October 5-7, 2019


SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Gateway Center

Syracuse, NY

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Want to volunteer at the Summit? 

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$100 before September 1st 

$150 after September 1st

Travel Unity is a 501(c)(3) focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in the world of travel and tourism.


  • We connect community groups and individuals with travel, cultural, and educational experiences to promote personal and professional growth.
  • We work with organizations in the travel industry to broaden their diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts.
  • We collaborate with destinations on solutions to welcome people of various backgrounds and abilities. 

The 5th Annual Travel Unity Summit will convene members of the tourism industry, as well as representatives from academia, community groups, and elected officials and their staff, to discuss issues around diversity and inclusion in the world of travel.

Saturday, October 5th

Morning: Sessions around topics vital to tourism and inclusion for Syracuse and Central New York at SUNY ESF

Afternoon: Experiences and further discussions in the surrounding region

Evening: Welcoming Gathering

Sunday, October 6th

Workshops and discussions, including:

  • Expanding hiring pipelines to bring in diverse candidates
  • How academia and community partners can foster welcoming communities

Monday, October 7th

  • Flash Talks from Travel Unity, ESF, and governmental and private industry voices
  • Cultivating Welcoming Destinations Panel
  • Communication/Marketing Roundtables
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Roundtables

2019 Partners and Sponsors

Quotes from last year’s Summit

“We are excited to have the Travel Unity Summit in the region. Any time the area can facilitate conversations about diversity and accessibility it benefits all our destinations. We look forward to this conference being the beginning of a continued conversation.”

Kristy Kennedy

Director of Tourism, North Country Chamber of Commerce and Adirondack Coast VCB

ROOST sees the Travel Unity Summit as an opportunity to learn, grow,
and connect with individuals and organizations in the travel industry
who understand the value of a diverse, inclusive Adirondacks. Our
organization believes that diverse communities are strong communities,
and we think the summit will engage local businesses, officials, and
community members in a way that challenges and informs them to not
only continue ongoing conversations about inclusion, but also to spark
new conversations on how to attract a broader range of travelers to
our region.”

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Syracuse/Central New York Roundtables

Why to attend Saturday’s sessions:

You care about how Syracuse and Central New York are addressing issues that impact both locals and potential visitors.


Saturday Schedule


10:00am – 11:30am

I-81 Corridor as a Possible Destination

A discussion on the possibilities of responsibly developing the renewed I-81 Corridor as a community that will welcome visitors.

12:00pm – 1:30pm

The Revitalization of Onondaga Lake

How can Onondaga Lake’s sacred history of the native people coincide with outside visitation? This session will explore this possible futures of the site.

Saturday Afternoon/Evening

Saturday afternoon will include visits to the sites discussed earlier in the day. 

A networking reception will take place Saturday evening.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Why to attend Sunday’s sessions:

1) You want to see communities around colleges and universities successfully welcome students from outside the area.

2) You would like to further the job and internship opportunities in the travel industry, especially for young people.


10:00am – 11:30am
Cultivating Welcoming Higher Ed
12:00pm – 1:30pm
Experiential Education: Internships, Study Abroad, and Applied Learning
1:30pm – 2:30pm
Lunch Break
2:30pm – 4:00pm Inclusion in Arts, Culture, and Nature
4:00pm – 5:30pm Meeting the Needs of Non-Traditional Students

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Cultivating Welcoming Higher Ed

Schools have struggled with racial incidents, conflicts between the universities and the communities that they are a part of, and truly embracing inclusion of students from all walks of life.

This open dialogue will confront these issues.

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Experiential Education: Internships, Study Abroad, and Applied Learning

Learning doesn’t only happen in classrooms. To be more prepared for the real world, students of all ages need to have exposure to the workforce and the larger world.

This session will tackle how all students, but especially those of under-served backgrounds, can be better exposed to opportunities beyond the four walls of academia.

2:30pm – 4:00pm

Inclusion in Arts, Culture, and Nature

Arts, culture, and the natural world should not be beyond anyone’s reach due to their background and abilities.

This collaborative session will explore how to bring more groups into the world of art and culture.

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Meeting the Needs of Non-Traditional Students

From veterans to returning citizens to any students outside of the stereotypical undergrad, this session will address the unique needs of non-traditional student populations.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Why to attend Monday’s sessions:

1) You want to hear leaders from the travel industry discuss how to best leverage diversity and inclusion for social good and economic benefit.

2) You would like to take part in discussions around reaching new audiences and leveraging corporate social responsibility programs.

MC and Moderator

Pam Brunet

Executive Director of Leadership Greater Syracuse

9:00am – 10:00am Registration and Light Breakfast
10:00am – 11:00am
Opening Flash Talks
11:00am – 11:45am
11:45am – 12:15pm Networking Break
12:15pm – 1:30pm
Cultivating Welcoming Destinations Panel
1:30pm – 3:00pm LUNCH (w/ Curated Networking)
3:00pm – 4:30pm
Communications/Marketing Roundtables
4:30pm – 4:45pm Break
4:45pm – 6:00pm
Corporate Social Responsibility Roundtables

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Opening Flash Talks


Danny Liedka (Visit Syracuse)

Dr. Amy Roache-Fedchenko (National Park Service)

Dr. Christopher Dunn (Cornell Botanic Gardens)

12:15 PM – 1:45 PM

Cultivating Welcoming Destinations


Visit Syracuse

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

President Kristin Esterberg (SUNY Potsdam)