Like most industries, the travel industry is no different when it comes to lack of representation and diversity. Despite Black Americans spending more than $60 billion annually on travel, we have little to no representation within travel marketing and public relations agencies, campaigns, commercials, ad spends and even press trips that invite journalists to help promote destinations to their respective audiences. Let them tell it — the Black travel movement doesn’t exist at all.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, UOMA Beauty founder Sharon Chuter started the #PullUpOrShutUp campaign, which expressed what we’ve all been thinking — enough is enough. We are here, and a change must occur, now.
Thankfully a group of Black leaders in the travel space have stepped in to hold these brands accountable.
The Black Travel Alliance, an organization of Black journalists, content creators and united to launch the Black Travel Scorecard to evaluate destination marketing organizations and travel brands on not just what they say, but also what they do. It’s time they finally #PullUpForTravel — the travel industries take on the #PullUpOrShutUp campaign.
“We will continue to hold the travel industry accountable to the five major areas in our Black Travel Scorecard,” travel blogger and founding member Martina Jones Johnson tells ESSENCE. “Our Black Travel Scorecard is based upon the representation of Black people in employment, conferences & tradeshows, paid advertising/marketing campaigns, press and philanthropy. We believe that action and Black representation in these areas are key to ending the lack of diversity in the travel industry.”
The campaign calls for brands to share their metrics by this Friday, or Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the United States.
Johnson explains, “After Juneteeth, we are putting together a report of the KPIs that businesses submit to us and we will continue to check in for updates and to monitor their progress.”
With brands and organizations posting blank black squares to their social media feeds several weeks ago in an attempt to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, many are calling on the travel industry to create real action and change, rather than posting performative posts that don’t signify what they actually represent. If not? We take our billions elsewhere.
“Black Travel Alliance was heartened to see that many destinations and travel brands showed support during #BlackOutTuesday. However, dismantling systemic racism requires more than social media activism,” says Jeff Jenkins, an award-winning content creator and founding member of the alliance. “Destination management organizations and travel brands need to truly become more inclusive in their hiring practices and marketing campaigns.”
Members of the Black Travel Alliance include Martinique Lewis, Tomiko Harvey, Lauren Gay, Monet Hambrick, Jeff Jenkins, Kerwin McKenzie, Ursula Barzey, Gabby Beckford, Donna-Kay Delahaye, Roshida Dowe, Colby Holiday, Leslie and Martina Johnson, Dr. Nadeen White, Davida Wulff-Vanderpuije, and Xavier.
The Black Travel Scorecard is just the beginning for the Alliance, though they’re hoping that this results in real change across the industry. “In 5 years, we hope that it’s no longer necessary to have these conversations!” says Martina Jones Johnson. “We want tokenism to be eliminated so that the world has the opportunity to hear more of our stories in all facets of travel. While we are often put in a box, Blackness truly has no boundaries. It’s time for the travel industry to get to know us!”
She continues, “With transparency and accountability, we believe that significant progress can be made quickly!”