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A Better Way Forward

June 9, 2020

A message from NTA President Catherine Prather, CTP

All of us in this industry know that travel builds bridges. By visiting other places and meeting people with different backgrounds and beliefs, we expand our own knowledge and understanding and, hopefully, our acceptance of others. Travel, as Mark Twain told us, is fatal to prejudice and bigotry.

But just because we travel, we are not inoculated against those evils. Travel isn’t a magic elixir that removes prejudice and instills the “wholesome, charitable views” of people that Twain described. A stamped passport isn’t humanity’s seal of approval.

We have to do more.

Over the past two weeks, like any sentient citizen of the world, I have done a good deal of watching, reading, listening, and thinking. About race. About bias. About diversity and inclusion. I’ve also looked at NTA’s role in those important issues. And I have decided that travel isn’t enough—neither for me as an individual nor for NTA as an association.

So I will do more. And I want NTA to do more, too. More listening. More thinking. And acting.

In a perfect world, this is where I would describe a new NTA program focused on defeating racial bias and building a more just society. I don’t have that answer and, frankly, I don’t see that as the National Tour Association’s role. So I won’t deliver a hollow promise, but I will make one filled with hope. 

As we promise that travel will return, let us also vow to take further steps … a longer journey … toward racial reconciliation. This is a journey I will take, and I invite you to walk beside me. I recognize that I have blind spots, and I will lean on you for enlightenment. I invite your ideas, insights, and expertise. Or even just your willingness to walk.

Travel isn’t a panacea, but some of its greatest gifts—opening minds, broadening horizons, and connecting people—can be our bridge to a better way forward.

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