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Today the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the premiere trade association and voice of the global business travel industry, launched its Global Equity Program (GEP), which provides business travel professionals in emerging markets with access to all the benefits of a one-year sponsored GBTA membership including member-only industry education, networking and professional development opportunities.

To qualify for the program, an applicant must be an industry professional residing in a country identified by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as low to upper-middle income, hold a paid position in the business travel sector, and work for an organization that otherwise would not subsidize their annual GBTA membership.

GBTA’s GEP online application process is now open. Marriott International has signed on as the GEP’s exclusive Founding Sponsor and will fund GBTA’s annual membership for the program’s first 20 accepted applicants.

“GBTA is committed to improving access to ever-expanding set of professional resources while continuing to foster a growing network of members in underserved countries,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO at GBTA. “Thanks to the generosity of Marriott, we’re excited to make this vision a reality by providing underrepresented business travel professionals with opportunities to excel in their careers and contribute to their company’s success. We also look forward to welcoming more program sponsors and to the contributions of new and diverse voices in the GBTA community.”

Applications are now being accepted through July 18th or until all current GEP slots are filled and then applicants will be waitlisted for the next cohort. Applicants will be notified in August. GBTA plans to open subsequent cohorts throughout the year as new program sponsors are confirmed.

“We are thrilled to see GBTA launch the Global Equity Program. We were honored when they invited us to become involved − we didn’t even question it,” said Tammy Routh, President, Allied Leadership Council, GBTA and Senior Vice President, Global Sales Organization at Marriott International. “If we let cost get in the way of someone contributing to our industry and accessing all the tools, education and opportunities GBTA has to offer, that means our industry’s representation is not inclusive of all its best thinkers. We see our support of GBTA’s GEP as doing what’s right to welcome diverse voices that are poised to move the global business travel industry forward.”

The timing of an applicant’s acceptance is based on the order in which they submit their GEP application. Once applicants are accepted and announced in August, their GBTA membership will be activated within approximately two weeks and they can then access all membership benefits which include access to the association’s members-only network of business travel professionals; education sessions, professional development through accreditation and training; proprietary industry research, surveys, RFP templates and webinars; and on-demand content.

For more information about GBTA’s Global Equity Program, including how to submit an application, access to FAQs and exploring sponsorship opportunities, visit the program’s website or email the program’s administrators at GEP@gbta.org.