September 15 is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a month-long celebration that honors the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx people in the US.
Why the 15th? That’s the date when five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—earned their independence from Spain in 1821.
*Mexico, Chile, and Belize became independent on the 16th, 18th, and 21st.
In the travel and hospitality industry, there’s often a misconception that the field is homogeneous. You think of Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Bill Marriott, the Hiltons, or maybe a few travel bloggers. But the reality of travel is a far cry from it’s most notable representation.
As a continued effort to amplify underrepresented voices in our industry, we are highlighting Latinx leaders, organizations and media in the travel industry that are paving the way for future generations and transforming the industry.
Here are 15 Latinx industry leaders, organizations and wanderlust bloggers that you should know about in the travel industry.
1. Olga Maria, Latinas Who Travel + Dreams in Heels
Olga Maria is an award-winning travel & lifestyle blogger of Dreams in Heels, featuring travel tips, style, trending destinations, off-the-beaten-path recommendations, for varying lifestyles, to inspire people (especially women) to follow their dreams to live life to the maximum. Her other venture, Latinas Who Travel, is a Bilingual Community that inspires & unites Latinas “a viajar el mundo.” Founded by Olga Maria, the community is a place that encourages Latina women to share their journeys and connect with each other.
2. Nikki Vargas, Unearth Women
Originally from Colombia, Nikki is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Unearth Women, an international women’s travel publication sharing women’s stories, inspiring interviews & travel guides written by and for women. Currently, Nikki is working on her first women’s travel book with Penguin Random House (coming Spring 2022).
3. Oscar Munoz, United Airlines
Oscar Munoz was the first Hispanic CEO of a major US airline. Born into a Mexican-American family, Munoz is a first-generation college graduate and is now the executive chairman of UAL.
4. Alexandra Tracy Chavarriaga, Travel Latina
Inspired by other wanderlust travel blogs and Instagram profiles, Alexandra Chavarriaga created Travel Latina to support women and gender non-binary people of the Latin American & Caribbean diaspora who travel the world. The blog and social community works “to empower Latinxs to travel, combat negative stereotypes & machismo, encourage them to connect with & embrace their roots, and push for a more conscious traveler.”
5. Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes, 109 World
Leticia Gonzalez-Reyes is an entrepreneur, multi-lingual traveler, and curator of culture who co-founded 109 World, a non-profit dedicated to creating purpose driven trips. Gonzalez-Reyes created this organization to design and host retreats that inspire personal and collective transformation and empower participants to grow and live a more mindful and fulfilled life.
6. Lynette Montoya, Latino Hotel Association
Lynette Montoya, CEO of the Latino Hotel Association since 2015, is focused on providing Latino entrepreneurs hotel industry resources, education and training, and networking opportunities to build wealth through hotel ownership and investment. Montoya is also the founder of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Santa Fe, New Mexico and served as its founding executive director.
7. David Rodriguez, Marriott International
David Rodriguez became executive vice president and global chief human resources officer for Marriott International in 2006. He was awarded the HR Executive of the Year in 2019 by Human Resource Executive, the leading HR business magazine.
8. Stephanie Flor, Around the World Beauty
Stephanie Flor is the founder of Around The World Beauty, a boutique travel company that guides women around the globe on exclusive beauty experiences to cultivate roots and celebrate the cultural source for modern day beauty rituals. In 2020 they launched beauty boxes inspired by Morocco and Latin America that are curated with premium ingredients sourced from around the world and delivered to your door.
9. Andres Barry, Jet Blue
Barry is the president of JetBlue Airlines’ new subsidiary, JetBlue Travel Products. Barry will lead the growth of the JetBlue Vacations brand and other non-air travel products including travel insurance, cruises, car rentals and more.
10. Ivonne, Latina Chic Travels
Ivonne is a full-time world traveler based in New York. She has traveled to over 50 countries, and uses her social platforms to share travel tips and experiences with her community. Ivonne’s mission is to inspire the Latinx community to “get out of their comfort zone and experience the beauty of the world.”
11. Kim Haas, “Afro-Latino Travels with Kim Haas” on PBS
Afro-Latino Travels With Kim Haas premiered in mid-September on PBS as a two-part special to celebrate and honor the contributions of Afro-Latinos in Latin and Caribbean countries during National Hispanic Heritage Month. The first two episodes focus on Costa Rica, which has a sizable Afro-Costa Rican community. Through interviews and activities, Haas traces how Jamaican immigrants came to the country and contributed to Costa Rica’s economy, culture, and infrastructure.
12. Alexandra Jimenez, Travel Fashion Girl
Alexandra Jimenez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travel Fashion Girl, an online travel resource with nearly one million monthly readers that has helped more than 20 million women avoid the mistakes Jimenez made when she first started traveling. Originally from Los Angeles, Jimenez has been traveling around the world since 2008 and has been to 46 countries on 6 continents and now bases the majority of her travels around her love for scuba diving.
13. Belinda Johnson, Airbnb
Belinda Johnson was Airbnb’s first chief operating officer and the company’s highest-ranking woman. Prior to this role, Johnson was the chief business affairs and legal officer for Airbnb and had been with Airbnb since 2011, leading its efforts in working with governments on policies related to home-sharing.
14. Vanessa Bell, De Su Mama
Vanessa Bell is a parenting and lifestyle writer and travel blogger who combines her Cuban-American roots with her husband’s African-American heritage to cultivate a multi-racial and multi-lingual family legacy. Through the exploration of identity, culture, food, travel, and education, Bell documents the adventure of parenthood online and shares helpful resources for traveling with your children (and your pets!).
15. Olivia Christine
Olivia Christine, (known as O Christine on the interwebs) is an Afro-Latinx travel blogger and Influencer with expertise in wellness travel. Her blog and social page inspire fellow travelers to prioritize travel and wellness, invest in experiences and connect with the outdoors. She’s passionate about preventing burnout before it happens and has various tips, travel guides, and travel resources that prioritize traveling with ease.