News By/Courtesy: Gunjan Dayal | 26 Jun 2020 22:48pm IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Industry can do a far better job of welcoming black travelers.
  • People are realizing things need to change.
  • Why call them black and not humans?

During this week's New Travel Conference, a panel of black travel industry insiders spoke passionately about how the industry can do a far better job of welcoming black travelers — by changing their internal practices, reaching out inappropriate ways, and showing that market the respect that should come with a demographic that spends more than $60 billion annually on travel. Speaking on the panel, called “How to Make Travel More Welcoming to Black People,” Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, a journalist and content creator (jetsetsarah.com), said that racism has always been part of the travel industry, though travel is the most diverse of travel journalistic “beats.” He said stories were told through a narrow, white lens for a long time, but hopes people are realizing things need to change. As travel companies are trying to revive themselves, she said, they should acknowledge that "now is the time to recalibrate what they are doing and be more welcoming to blacks." Kellee Edwards, a host for Travel + Leisure and the Travel Channel, said she hopes tourism boards would "let more of us tell our stories." She said it would make sense, for example, to send African diaspora journalists to Africa to speak about safaris and other adventure. "Let us use our lens to tell our stories," she said. “It’s fine to say black lives matter,” said Kim Jamieson, Director of Marketing for Columbia (S.C.) Metropolitan Airport, “but what are you doing internally?” She said she has been in multiple situations where she is the only black person in the room. “We are seeing momentum now,” she said, “but let’s push for true, true change.” Travis Levius, a journalist, video producer, and consultant who said black travelers are getting savvier about travel, said the black travel movement has boomed. He pointed to the power of black influencers on Instagram and other social media that showed black people go everywhere – and "they've normalized black travel." Still, he said, "you don't see that presence reflected in supplier messages." Agreeing that influencers deserve credit, Milton Howery III, Memphis Tourism's Director of Public Relations, said those content creators helped people like him to realize "the world is our oyster." He said the world now recognizes black purchasing power, which has been undervalued. "Now the Black people say: 'We can do this. Let's tell us where to go. Give us the chance." Edwards said black people are becoming more adventurous, like travelers in general. They 're diving and flying scuba planes and heading off the beaten track. “We escaped slavery and went from the South to the North,” she said. “We have been navigators and explorers. But also, our money should be valued. Respect that if nothing else.” And Jamieson said the market is not homogenous. “A 75-year-black man likes to travel as much as a 17-year old,” she said, adding, “we are limitless.” Similarly, Greaves-Gabbadon said black travelers are venturing well beyond traditional destinations like the Caribbean—to Asia, Europe, and beyond. And, she added, “We’re not always on a budget and we’re not waiting until we retire. We’re not homogeneous. There are black people everywhere and we want to go everywhere and want to spend money when we get there.” Little things can make a difference in getting black travelers to feel welcome, said DeMarco Williams, Forbes Travel Guide's managing editor, who moderated the panel. For example, he said there are typically no toiletries suitable for a Black man's hair when he goes to a spa. “It’s little things like that,” he said, “that I wish and hope we are turning the page about and that people would become more conscious of.” Howery said he inevitably gets ignored by the valet when he pulls up at a hotel. He has to get out of the car, walk to the valet stand and tell the valet he's staying there and don't pick up or drop anyone off. Levius said he's been treated differently than white border control colleagues in Moscow and Osaka—held for extra questioning and drug grilling. He said he was on a Cape Town South Africa art tour and was taken to galleries made up of white artists only. When she is on press trips with a particular black male colleague, said Greaves-Gabbadon, it is inevitably assumed they are married. When asked if they are, she answers, “No, we’re just black.” The speakers also say that they prefer to see the good and the bad on all sides of a destination. Williams said he appreciated being on a southern resort trip and having a tour showing the proud and dark side of his history, including a detailed discussion of his former slaves and burial sites. "I hope more hotels are not just glossing over the past and giving travelers the full story of their destinations," he added. And Howery said destinations and suppliers shouldn’t “just market to us.” He said they should have a moral grounding “and then you’ll know how to reach us. “He said, “It’s not just how do I reach you and welcome you—you also need to support our causes.”

THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT INTEND TO HURT THE SENTIMENTS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, SECT, OR RELIGION ETCETERA. THIS ARTICLE IS BASED PURELY ON THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL VIEWS AND OPINIONS IN THE EXERCISE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 19(1)(A) AND OTHER RELATED LAWS BEING FORCE IN INDIA, FOR THE TIME BEING.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 27 Jun 2020 9:32am IST


Tags : #BlackPeopleAreAlsoHumans

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