Black history travel market

sector - diversity & inclusion
sector - travel & hospitality
type - market focus
Market Focus
Around the world, Black people are using travel experiences as a way to heal from recent traumas and gain new perspectives on their ancestry and histories

Travelling, more than ever, is being used as a tool for self-reflection and education.

With the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other Black people coming to the world’s attention in 2020 – as well as accelerated racial inequalities caused by Covid-19 – grief and and fear linked to a lack of personal safety have pervaded Black communities.

The Black Lives Matter uprising has also highlighted the failings of educational systems to acknowledge Black history. This presents new opportunities in the travel sector, with Black travellers seeking experiences centred on their ancestry. As Montoya Hudson, chief writer at The Spring Break Family, says: ‘Travel allows for some of the more positive lessons around Black history that are often left out of the schoolbooks.’

Identity revisited

Ancestral tourism has always been important for people of the global majority, and particularly among Black communities, as a way to examine their selfhood.

In particular, travel among the African diaspora is being bolstered by advancements in DNA testing. Companies such as AfroRoots DNA and African Ancestry are making it easier than ever for African Americans to research their genetic backgrounds, becoming the inspiration for trips to regions such as West Africa.

Tuning in to this, specialist travel operators such as Black & Abroad and Certified Africa organise trips designed to reconnect travellers with their motherlands at a local level. Airlines too, including Virgin Atlantic, have recently expanded routes to West Africa – flights to Lagos have reportedly been operating at 90% capacity.

Published by:

6 May 2021

Author: Holly Friend

Image: Nomadness Travel Tribe

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Underground Railroad Ride, US

From there, experiences that offer a transformative look at identity and ancestry await travellers. According to Rabbi Kohain Halevi, a board member of the Diaspora African Forum, while many people cannot trace the exact township or clan they come from, many visitors can learn more about their ancestors by visiting Ghana’s Door of No Return – through which millions of Africans were forced onto slave ships bound for the US – creating a full-circle moment. Ghana has become a leader in roots tourism, with campaigns to encourage those of the African diaspora to help process the experience of ancestors.

A history lesson

As well as journeys of self-discovery, Black travellers are also embarking on trips that expand their knowledge of the complexities, and sometimes painful aspects, of their histories.

Until travel restrictions are lifted, Nomadness Travel Tribe, an online community for travellers of colour, has taken to Instagram for a series of educational Black history videos in collaboration with Freedom is Mine. The series includes history lessons about under-discussed Black communities in Pakistan and Russia, as well as dance history, from samba to Jamaican dancehall.

Elsewhere, destinations are embedding education into their tourism recovery strategies. The Caribbean island group of Guadeloupe is actively highlighting its history of slavery. Sandra Vénite, Guadeloupe tourism board’s US director, is seeking Black journalists and media outlets to help tell the islands’ story in order to reach African American travellers.

‘You will see many Black Americans choosing an African destination as their first international trip… as a way to acknowledge that life, discovering themselves and the act of travel are valuable’
Kristin Tellis Quaye, co-founder, Certified Africa
 
 

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