Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: All Inclusive Boston will help create equitable tourism, but the city’s reputation cannot be restored without addressing its racism

Acting Mayor Kim Janey launched All Inclusive Boston — a tourism campaign for the city that has been in the works since last fall under former Mayor Marty Walsh — Monday during a press conference.

Back in November, when the campaign was still being created, there were a number of skeptics who were concerned about follow-through.

Now that the initiative is being launched and overseen by the city’s first Black mayor, we’re hopeful we can finally walk the walk. The execution of the marketing, advertisements and stories are all essential in fulfilling its promise to Black and brown communities.

Tourism is the third-largest industry in Boston, which should come as no surprise once you reflect on its attributes. Boston is not only a college town — boasting Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and of course Boston University, among others — but also a historical anchor. It’s where Paul Revere signaled his lights and the colonists dumped tea into the harbor, and today, it’s a hub for science, health care and sports.

In fact, many of you reading this and attending BU were most likely drawn to the cosmopolitan city and came here for college tours before applying.

Because tourism is such an integral part of Boston, and 70% of the hospitality industry is composed of people of color, the campaign plans to address Boston’s racism by providing an equitable revitalization of businesses and tourism. All Inclusive will promote real stories, people, places and businesses through advertisements across New England to show how diverse Boston is.

Indeed, by showcasing the neighborhoods that are often overlooked, it will hopefully draw more visitors and revenue to smaller, minority-owned businesses. Given Boston’s reputation as a racist city — with its racial wealth gap, income disparity and continued segregation of public schools and neighborhoods — Janey hopes that the campaign will allow for a more accurate representation of Beantown.

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

Since the announcement comes as travel is still limited, the marketing may also incentivize native Bostonians who are able to go out to rediscover their city in the next few months, which could help to further educate people. Residents will be able to get acquainted with new parts of the city that they had never visited before.

However, the campaign can’t negate the allure of the perennial main attractions, such as Fenway Park, Harvard Square or the Boston Duck Tours.

The people running these institutions must take on responsibility for addressing their internal racism as well as educating visitors about Boston’s history of racism.

For instance, Boston sports has shown a pattern of racist, bigoted behavior. In 2017, Red Sox fans threw racial slurs at Adam Jones in Fenway Park, and there were seven recorded incidences of similar behavior in 2019.

The Red Sox permanently banned a fan who targeted a 6-year-old boy at a 2017 game, days after the Jones incident, but this behavior is consistent across all of Boston sports, interwoven with the culture. Evidently, making an example of a fan four years ago was not enough to deter others from partaking in the same language.

As such a large part of the city’s tourism, Boston sports must step up to bat to eradicate the casual racism within their fanbase.

Tourism-specific companies such as tour guides must also incorporate and address the historical racism in their stories of Boston’s landmarks, else we would be brushing past our history. This would be especially impactful for the students coming to Boston on educational field trips.

If coupled with the campaign, we might be able to turn Boston’s racist reputation around for the better.

But can we truly call it a diverse, welcoming place — like the campaign suggests — if Boston is still racist? The city is segregated to this day and hate crimes are practically commonplace. Tourism won’t change that, but policy changes will.

All Inclusive Boston encourages the broadening of horizons and is a good action step. However, Boston remains unwelcoming to the vast majority of its residents, regardless of which way we market it.


One Comment

  1. What isn’t clear to me, is why Boston’s seen as so much worse than other cities. To be sure, Fenway’s a perennial problem spot (one of the reasons I switched to the White Sox) and the net wealth issue is truly embarrassing. At the same time, NYC and Chicago have far worse police violence problems, and California seems to be a hotspot for the new wave of anti-Asian attacks. If tourists/SNL writers focus on Boston as especially bad while ignoring the problems in their own backyards, even the most meaningful efforts to make the city safer (which are still worthwhile) are unlikely to make a difference in the city’s reputation.