Hey, did you know that I became Co-Founder, Board Member, and Research Committee Chair of the Black Travel Alliance two years ago? It is a non-profit organization with [501(c)(3)] status whose primary members include Black travel content creators like myself, advocating for diversity and inclusion in the travel industry, specifically as it relates to employment, conferences, marketing, and media.
After two intense and productive years, I am writing to say that while I will remain an active member of the organization, I am stepping down from my leadership position. As a co-founder who still believes in the cause, this was a very difficult decision. Still, one I felt was necessary as I seek to rebalance my life and focus on my digital consultancy Moxee Marketing and this travel blog Caribbean & Co.
Here are the things that I am incredibly proud of accomplishing during my two-year tenure as co-Founder, Board Member, and Research Committee Chair of the Black Travel Alliance:
- Writing the initial press release that launched the Black Travel Alliance with my co-founder Davida Wulff-Vanderpuije.
- Becoming Research Committee Chair and leading the team on a number of projects including the Black Traveler Study, Black Traveler Grant Program, History of Black Travel, etc.
- Becoming Steering Committee Co-Chair of The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities study with MMGY Global, the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP), and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD).
- Compiling, analyzing the data, and writing the long-form report for the #PullUpForTravel campaign with fellow co-founder Davida Wulff-Vanderpuije.
- Designing the Black Travel Organization Grant & Black Travel Content Creator Grant programs which distributed $70,000 in grant money in partnership with MMGY Global and the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP).
- Working with the extended Research Committee team and professors from Tourism RESET on the launch of the History of Black Travel.
- Successfully managed the Research Committee’s participation in Destination Cleveland’s Racial Equity & Inclusion Board Taskforce project, which included attending listening lessons and creating a racial equity study that provided valuable insight for their Racial Equity and Inclusion Roadmap currently being implemented.
- Participating in over a dozen virtual panels related to Black travel, including highlighted ones below:
=> “MMGY Global Presents The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities, a Webinar Premiere (US Market)” MMGY Global. January 19, 2021.
=> “Inclusion: how the industry can best reflect the face of travel.” Propel Forward Conference. February 24, 2021.
=> “The Black Travel Experience.” Travel and Tourism Research Association. March 29, 2021.
=> “MMGY Global Presents The Black Traveller: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities, a Webinar Premiere (UK Market)” MMGY Global. May 26, 2021.
=> “How Destination Cleveland Leveraged MMGY Global’s Black Traveler Program and Partnership with The Black Travel Alliance to Action Racial Equity & Inclusion.” Travel Unity Virtual Summit. October 29, 2021.
=> “The History Of Black Travel: What, So What, Now What?” Tripadvisor. February 22, 2022
=> Haussman, Glenn. “9.7 MMGY Global Is Helping Grow Diversity in Hospitality.” No Vacancy. September 7, 2021.
With the accomplishments above, I take great pride in knowing that the Research Committee spearheaded robust work and results that the Black Travel Alliance has become primarily known for within the last two years. This work has opened numerous opportunities for the Black Travel Alliances as well as other Black travel advocacy organizations and Black travel professionals. And while it was a collective effort, I am especially proud to have been the driving force for much of the activity. I’m sure most, if not all on the Research Committee would agree with this statement!
That said, while I was the chair/project manager keeping our various commitments on track, it is essential to say that NONE of these projects would have been completed without the involvement of the other extraordinary members of the Black Travel Alliance Research Committee. They are my fellow co-founders Donna-Kay Delahaye, Gabby Beckford, Kerwin McKenzie, Patricia King, and Martinique Lewis. We can also add Davida Wulff-Vanderpuije, who was co-chair of the Communications Committee and who became an honorary member of the Research Committee since we worked with her on all documents and press releases published by our team.
During the first year, the Research Committee met every week on Thursdays as my approach was full transparency of all opportunities and projects. Then there were usually other meetings with potential partners and eventual partners MMGY Global and Tourism RESET. Beyond this, most of us had other committee responsibilities, myself on the Partnerships Committee and Conflict of Interest Committee. So many meetings at the committee level and then with the board level. Those meetings were also weekly during the first year. In the second year, we switched committee and board meetings to bi-monthly, but the activity was no less intense. So quite full-on for an organization run by volunteers!
If you want to read more about the projects mentioned above, check out my blog posts on my Moxee Marketing website. I published them there as diversity and inclusion are not just relevant to improving tourism in the Caribbean, but across the wider travel and tourism industry. The articles all published in the last month include:
- Barzey, Ursula Petula. “#PullUpForTravel Campaign & Launch of the Black Travel Alliance.” Moxee Marketing. June 7, 2022.
- Barzey, Ursula Petula. “Making the Economic Case for Increased Diversity and Inclusion in the Travel Industry.” Moxee Marketing. June 14, 2022.
- Barzey, Ursula Petula. “Profiling The Black Traveler: Insights from Market Research Study via MMGY Global & 3 Black Travel Organizations.” Moxee Marketing. June 16, 2022.
- Barzey, Ursula Petula. 2022. “Case Study – Destination Cleveland.” Moxee Marketing. June 18, 2022.
Also, below is a selection of the articles that mention my name in connection to the above-mentioned projects. I was unfamiliar with some of them until I started writing this post, as I did what I did, not for the headlines or to build my brand (hence no previous mention on this blog about my involvement), but for the cause.
Thus, every time I see a social media post or article in a major newspaper or magazine that mentions the figures from The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities study with MMGY Global, I smile irrespective of whether they say the Black Travel Alliance or even my name – I was quoted in the launch press release about the study.
I take satisfaction in knowing that the collective work we did on that project is helping to bring about change. Many destination management organizations purchased the study and are actively working on improving diversity and inclusion in their organization and marketing campaigns. Heck, the Black Travel Alliance has also created opportunities for many Black travel content creators through general partnerships and Wavelength, its speed-networking event for DMO executives and content creators.
Of course, we are a long way from achieving diversity and inclusion in the travel industry for Black people and other minority groups. Thus I know the remaining co-founders and others who join the board, and various committees will continue to advocate. I will continue to do so in my regular work with Moxee Marketing and Caribbean & Co.
After all, diversity and inclusion do not sit outside of traditional travel marketing. For it to truly be successful, it needs to become a part of a destination management organization or travel brand’s overall strategy. If we are talking about luxury travel, adventure travel, sports travel, cultural travel, etc., it is embedded into the strategy. It cannot just be a side project to be done around awareness months like Black History Month. Thus, I look forward to seeing how the Black Travel Alliance can move the conversation along.
Black Travel Alliance Launch + PullUpForTravel:
- Beauregard, Natalie. “Black Travel Alliance Holds Travel Brands Accountable with New Campaign.” AFAR. June 17, 2020.
- Baratti, Laurie. “Black Travel Alliance’s Report Reveals Travel Industry’s Lack of Diversity.” TravelPulse. October 26, 2020.
- Diakite, Parker. “Black Travel Alliance Campaign Shows Lack of Diversity in Travel Industry.” Travel Noire. October 26, 2020.
- Wilson, Kimberly.”The Black Travel Alliance Is Holding the Travel Industry Accountable for Lack of Diversity.” Essence. June 18, 2020.
- Waller, Rebecca. “Interview with Ursula Petula Barzey from the Black Travel Alliance.” Travindy. December 17, 2020.
The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities
- Bench. “New International Study Shows U.S. Black Travelers Are More Influenced by Concerns about Safety and Representation in Marketing than European Black Travelers.” International Luxury Hotel Association. July 16, 2021.
- Biesiada, Jamie. “Black Travel Alliance Survey Sets Ground Floor for Change.” Travel Weekly. October 23, 2020.
- Biesiada, Jamie. “The Financial Argument for a Diverse Client Base.” Travel Weekly. December 17, 2020.
- Brady, Sasha. 2020. “How a New Study Aims to Amplify Black Voices and Experiences in Travel.” Lonely Planet. September 18, 2020.
- Chamberlain, Ellen. “How the Travel Industry Is (Finally) Learning to Cater to Black Travelers.” Fodors Travel Guide. January 11, 2022.
- Edenedo, Nicole. “Black Travelers on the Road to Discovery: Travel Weekly.” Travel Weekly. March 2, 2022.
- Girma, Lebawit Lily. “The Top-down Diversity Push That U.S. Tourism Desperately Needs Is Here.” Skift. February 3, 2021.
- Girma, Lebawit Lily. “Travel’s Creator Economy Resets for next Boom.” Skift. June 28, 2021.
- Menze, Jill. “Black U.S. Travelers Make Decisions Based on Safety, Representation.” PhocusWire. January 18, 2021.
- Rosenfeld, Kelly. “Representation and Safety Are Key Factors in U.s. Black Travelers’ Decisions.” TravelAge West. January 14, 2021.
Turner, Matt. “Stats: U.S. Black Travelers Most Influenced by Safety, Representation.” Travel Agent Central. January 14, 2021.
Black Travel Organization Grant & Black Travel Content Creator Grant
- Ayah, A. 2021. “20+ Black Travel Organizations and Content Creators Awarded $70,000 in Grants.” Travel Noire. July 15, 2021.
- “MMGY Global Launches Two Grant Programs to Fund Black Travel Organizations and Black Travel Content.” Bea Broda. April 6, 2021.
- “MMGY Global Selects Recipients of Grants for Black Travel Organizations.” TravelPulse. July 8, 2021.
History of Black Travel
- Braga, Brunno. “New Website Chronicles the History of Black Leisure Travel across the Diaspora.” Travel Noire. August 4, 2021.
- Christian, Tanya. “Black Travelers Contribute Nearly $160B to Travel Industry According to New Study.” Ebony.Com. September 29, 2021.
- “History of Black Travel: A Resource for the Black Queer Community Too.” Vacationer Magazine. December 7, 2021.
- Holtgrieve, Sally. “History of Black Travel Showcases the Development of Black Leisure Travel.” Women Leading Travel & Hospitality. February 28, 2022.
- Prior, Ginny. “BATW Member Elaine Lee Publishes Eight Pieces for Black History Month.” Bay Area Travel Writers. March 1, 2022.
P.S. Below is a photo with all eighteen Black Travel Alliance Co-Founders! We are a diverse bunch representing the range of niches within the travel industry.