Exclusive: Q&As with Hispanic Leaders In Travel

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! Now, more than ever, it’s time to celebrate our contributions in the United States, especially to the travel industry. Hear our voices, listen to our stories, our challenges, and our achievements. Understandably this year has been extremely difficult for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it can be a time for us to unite together  - let’s keep striving towards building a more inclusive travel movement. 


Monica Ortega

As a Hispanic contributor and creator to the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of showing people that if an everyday average person like me can do these things, anyone can! I wanted people to see that you don’t have to be a size 2, super buff blonde to push out of your comfort zones and go on adventures. In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry? 2020 has been a wild year with the pandemic. It was challenging to have trips canceled and the entire travel industry shut down for most of the year. But it was also a great time to step back, slow down, and redirect how we look at travel and look at ourselves. I’m noticing that as the travel industry reopens, destinations are looking at influencers and creators more than ever to show the world that it’s safe to travel. I hope that people travel MORE post-pandemic now that we know the value of it and no longer take it for granted. I’m also stoked that more people than ever are getting outdoors and going on socially distanced adventures! This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know? I would like the world to know that the outdoors are for EVERYONE! A lot of hispanic families don’t necessarily grow up camping and hiking and I want to show people that there are people of all colors out there rocking out the adventures as well. It’s the most welcoming community I’ve ever found and the outdoors are a place that feels like home no matter what you look like. How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices? It’s really about finding people out there who are doing it and sharing their stories with others. I never really considered my hispanic heritage; I just simply loved traveling, hosting, and going on adventures. But when I started to see that other people noticed, and were excited to see someone who maybe looked like them out there, I realized how important it truly is! The more we normalize people of color traveling, the more the world opens up to everyone!

Find out more about Monica on her Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or her website.

Alma Tilgham

As a Hispanic contributor and creator to the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

I'm proud of being a Latina woman who strives to break stereotypes about the ways that women are supposed to travel -and the kind of activities that we are expected to do and not do. Not only am I a Latina woman, but I'm also in the curvy girl category and have diabetes. Still, last year I managed to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and although I am married, I often enjoy solo travel. I went to Tanzania solo last year and many people thought I was crazy but it was one of my best trips ever.

In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry?

The challenge as most people know has been not being able to fly due to COVID-19. As someone with pre-existing conditions, I have to be a bit more careful so at this time, I don't feel comfortable flying but hope I will soon. I hope that the discussions about diversity in travel are not just a trend but that people are really interested in diversity, not just when it comes to color but also diversity in ages, diversity in people with special needs, body types, etc. For me travel has always been about making a cultural exchange, so it's crazy to see this lack of diversity in the industry that should be the most diverse. It makes zero sense.

This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know?

I would like the world to know that Latina travelers come in all shapes and sizes and colors and that the majority of travellers do not look like instagram models. I feel like the brands mostly cater to the ages 25-35 and that women over 40 are rarely portrayed in content. Most of my girlfriends are Black and Latinx 40+ with lots of disposable income to travel but we rarely see this category of woman traveller being highlighted. If you hashtag #latinatraveler you will see that most of the women look like they are in their 20's. The industry is missing out on a big chunk of money from women who have already been at the height of their careers, therefore have more disposable income.

How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices?

I think people with larger platforms should take the time to highlight the smaller folks who are underrepresented, much like Jeannette is going here. She is using her platform to uplift other voices who may not have the visibility that she does. I think there is a need for mentorship, especially when it comes to marketing and social media. We live in a world where folks are afraid to help others out because they don't want anyone to take their place or have more numbers/followers than they do. They want to be the only "Latina" etc. but I do believe if you are genuine that there is room for all of us. We are all unique in our way and we all have different experiences to share.

Find out more about Alma on her Instagram and her website.

Angel Castellanos

As a Hispanic contributor and voice in the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

I’ve been very proud to travel to Latin America (Central & South America) to tell stories that highlight those destinations from a Latinx perspective. I’m proud to have carried on in my travels, the work the ethic, values, and travel philosophies that my parents instilled in me. 

In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry? 

That this will be over someday and we can all start traveling again. I hope the industry stays connected to the traveling public and continues to encourage smart and thoughtful travel. The biggest lesson would be to learn to be sustainable and recognize the dangers of over-tourism. Also, the way we travel and what is meaningful to travelers has now pivoted. 

This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know? 

True diversity and inclusion means everybody. Within the Hispanic communities, there are various sub-groups and demographics. This needs to be appreciated and explored further. The buying power of the Hispanic community is completely undervalued by tourism boards and the travel industry. Due to our various backgrounds and immigrant stories, the Hispanic community has a unique world view and talents that are underrated by the travel industry. 

How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices? 

Hire us, market to us, and speak to us. We come in all shades and are often multi-lingual. Lots of us have an immigrant background or story that often shapes our work ethic and how we travel. Education and continuing to tell Hispanic stories is very important. 

Find out more about Angel on his Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and his website.


Tinabeth Peña

As a Hispanic contributor and voice in the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I have created my own voice. I was never hired or sought out by any mainstream travel media. One day, I just decided to travel vlog on my own for fun and then I actually took it a step further and created a travel TV show that has aired on PBS stations nationwide. Growing up, I didn't see people like me on television and so years ago I made it my mission to showcase the underrepresented on mainstream media.

In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly been the greatest recent challenge to every industry but especially the travel industry. It’s important for travelers and travel industry employees to focus on what they can control. As an avid traveler myself, I'm still planning trips and dreaming about the next destination because it's important for my mental health and it gives me something to look forward to. I think people in the industry are doing the same - plus those travel industry employees have to say on top of what destinations are open for business because travel will bounce back. It always does although this time around it will go back to a new normal and I'm okay with that.

This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know? 

I'd like the world to know that we travel too and we would like to see people like ourselves in those brochures on exotic trips or taking that cross country trip in an RV.  Unfortunately, when we are represented - it's usually a stereotypical representation and we are so much more than that.  We are not a monolithic group, never have been and never will be. 

How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices? 

First and foremost, we need to work together as a group and genuinely support one another and lift each other up. We can have more success together than apart. For those already in positions of power in the travel community who are not Latino and who do not market to us specifically - it's time to make an effort. Our purchasing power is expected to top $1.9 trillion by 2023 and that alone should be a motivating factor! WEPA!

Find out more about Tinabeth on her Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her website.


Joe Rodriguez

As a Hispanic contributor and creator to the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

I'm proud to have been able to meet new people in the places one travels to and to be able to share their stories of why they travel to the games and their passion to follow a team. Even when people are of similar ethnical backgrounds, we can be so different and incredible to share their experiences.

In 2020, what hav been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry? 2020 has taught us many lessons. For one, we can not take our health and that of other for granted. Also, that we need to be innovative. If we can't travel, how do we continue to create content, especially if traveling is the number one way? I ultimately hope that everyone in the travel industry overcomes their challenges, as they are unique to each person and company.

This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know? Just as in many other work areas in the United States, the travel industry is underrepresented, particularly mainstream. One of the reasons I believe that is the case, similar to mainstream media, many executives feel as though Latinos have "their own" representation with Spanish language outlets. That could be further from the truth as many Latinos are English-dominant and prefer to consume content in the language they are most comfortable in, who for many is English.

How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices? For one, big media companies need to continue to push diversity and inclusion amongst their work place. Second, we as Latinos, need to speak up and have our voices heard. Not to generalize, but some Latinos have a meek or timid demeanor or personality and do not want to ruffle feathers by asking for "more." The truth is, collectively as a community, Latinos need to keep pushing and insisting in fair representation.

Find out more about Joe on his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and website.


Fredelinda Peña


As a Hispanic contributor and voice in the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

I’m proud of our diversity. As a Latina, coming from a diverse background- I know this background can be essential in impacting the future of travel. Additionally, it serves as a guide and tool to encourage other Latinos to join the industry by inspiring them to celebrate our diversity and to make them feel welcome.

In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry? 

This year has been fueled with different challenges but one of the challenges I see very prevalent in this industry is the lack of diverse expression- meaning reading about travel stories from people who come from multi-cultural backgrounds.

This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know?

I want the world to know that if we function as a unified body, we can create a greater impact. 

How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices?

First, I believe it needs to start at the home-base. We first need to support each other and find solutions within our community and show the world how powerful and unify we can be as a nation and this sends a stronger message than begging the world to save a seat for us at the table.

Find out more about Fredelinda on Instagram.


Sheryl Desir

As a Hispanic contributor and creator to the travel industry, what are you most proud of? 

I'm most proud that I have created content that educates and makes people laugh and feel inspired while staying true to my Mexican roots. As a Hispanic in the travel industry, I feel it's important that people feel represented. When I met Jeannette I felt represented and related to her content. My goal is to be the same for my Latinx community. I want people to feel like they can travel simply because they see someone that looks and talks like them do it. In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry? 

I hope that this year all forms of transportation continue to clean their spaces thoroughly even after COVID is gone. I hope that the travel industry takes representation seriously and hires/collaborates with more Hispanics.  This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know? 

I would like the world to know that the more diverse the travel industry becomes the more successful it will be. Latinos account for approximately 1.7 trillion in spending power. We love to spend but we become loyal when a brand caters their messages authentically to us.  How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices? 

The travel community should support and be welcoming to Black, Indigenous, and people of color. I encourage the public to put their money where their mouth is and support those creators that they feel represent them. Feel free to connect with me via social media and let me know how I can support you in your travel adventures!

Find out more about Sheryl on her Instagram or YouTube.

Cristina Alcivar


As a Hispanic contributor and creator to the travel industry, what are you most proud of?

To able to communicate in Spanish to a broader audience and especially to fellow Spanish speakers. To highlight airport wellness services globally via Vane Airport Media. For example services like therapy dogs, healthy food options, airport spas, napping rooms, and much more.

In 2020, what have been the challenges and hopes you have for the travel industry?

The challenges are the fear inducing media at this time. Its hard to escape misinformation these days. Also, respecting the choices of people during these times.

Hoping that we can support one another during these times.

This year, there have been discussions about the need for more diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Hispanic travelers- what would you like the world to know?

That we are a community and variety of Hispanic regions and countries.

How can we as a travel community and the public around the world be more supportive and amplify the underrepresented Hispanic voices?

I think showcasing more of our roots to the world. The variety of food, places and cultures of Hispanic peoples.

Find out more about Cristina on her Instagram and Twitter.

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