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Black Travel Alliance Holds Travel Brands Accountable With New Campaign

By Natalie Beauregard

Jun 17, 2020

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With its #PullUpForTravel campaign, the newly formed group is calling for meaningful representation of Black voices in the travel industry.

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In an effort to end the systemic lack of diversity in the travel industry, the Black Travel Alliance launched the #PullUpForTravel campaign on June 16, calling on travel brands to be more inclusive in their hiring practices, advertising campaigns, and more.

Made up of 17 Black travel content creators, including Ursula Petula Barzey of Caribbean & Co. and Jeffrey Jenkins of ChubbyDiaries.com, the Black Travel Alliance was formed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent responses to the “Black Lives Matter” movement from the travel industry. The #PullUpForTravel Campaign—inspired by UOMA Beauty founder Sharon Chuter’s #PullUpOrShutUp hashtag, which called on beauty companies to share their Black employment figures—encourages destination management organizations and other travel brands to take their #BlackOutTuesday support beyond social media and work toward significant representation of Black voices.

In order to evaluate companies on what they do, rather than just what they say, the Black Travel Alliance is calling on them to fill out a Black Travel Scorecard, which collects data in five major areas: employment (the current number of Black people in management or on staff); conferences and tradeshows (representation on speaker panels and in workshops); paid advertising and marketing campaigns (representation in TV, radio, print, and social media and other digital channels); press (invitations to media trips); and philanthropy (contributions to or other support of charities and organizations serving the Black community). 

By Friday, June 19, the Alliance is asking companies to communicate their metrics publicly on social media with the hashtag #PullUpForTravel. The date is symbolic because it’s Juneteeth, an annual holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.  

The intent of the campaign is not to shame brands that aren’t doing enough, but rather to provide a starting point for improvement. According to a 2017 report by Mandala Research, Black Americans spend $63 billion on travel each year, yet they have little to no representation in the management or staff of larger travel companies. There’s also a severe lack of Black representation in marketing campaigns and on press trips, even from destinations that attract a large number of Black travelers. 

At AFAR, we know we play a role in these numbers. As the leading travel media company for the world’s best travelers, we are too white. And we are committed as a company to change that. We convened a panel of employees to focus on diversity and inclusion at AFAR with the mission of creating a working environment where all employees are able to prosper. Goals include fostering an environment of inclusivity in which employees of all backgrounds can excel; increasing employee diversity overall; and providing leadership opportunities to employees in underrepresented groups. 

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We’ve also been listening to feedback from our audience and establishing goals that directly address Black representation and inequity. Different teams throughout the company, including editorial, design, and sales and marketing, have also met in the last two weeks to establish goals that directly address Black representation in all that we produce, including magazine and digital stories, industry panels, and consumer events.

This work is a marathon, not a sprint. But with a push from groups such as the Black Travel Alliance, the travel industry can hold itself responsible and work toward meaningful change.  

>>Next: The National Museum of African American History and Culture Is Helping People Talk About Racism

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