Black Travel Summit founder nurtures expertise to expand black voices in the travel industry

Anita Francois, She leveraged her passion for travel and her background in archaeology to generate a vision that supports and empowers the demographics of the cultural black traveler.

In 2019, her vision came alive at the Black Travel Summit. The BTS team in Miami, Florida, is holding a year-round experience event “to celebrate black travel industry professionals and travelers, with a focus on Millennials and Generation Z audiences,” according to the company’s website. BTS strives to expand the black and diverse voices of the travel industry through continuing education, networking events, collaboration opportunities, and more.

“Travel is not something new for black people, both globally and historically, it is just something we are rethinking in the age of technology, which has helped accelerate this through channels such as social media and communications,” BTS CEO Francois told Black Enterprise. “This is something we have to remember. We are not new to the game or catching up with it, we are just rediscovering it.”

The Black Travel Summit has done its part somewhat as it prepares for Voyage in Color, a three-day global summit celebrating the culture of black travel and the accomplishments of black travel professionals. The event is scheduled to take place from 17-19 June 2022, and approximately 25-26 June 2022.
Image courtesy of Anita Francois

Black travelers represent a $160 billion business annually. At Black Travel Summit, we are from the community and for the community, and I really believe we are stronger together,” said François.

“There is a small amount of talent in the industry that often gets recognized.”

Learn more about Anita Francois and her upcoming Voyage In Color event below.

What prompted you to create the Black Travel Summit?

Being an archaeologist made one thing clear to me; That people from the African diaspora are hardly recognized for our contributions to society. The Black Travel Summit has been my way of connecting this shared passion for travel in a space that highlights entrepreneurs, companies, and innovators who are like me, and facilitates connections that can help us grow in this community.

What resources do you offer that are unique to the industry?

Connections to well-established brands in the travel and tourism industry, and a platform for well-known and lesser known pacemakers whose voices you won’t often hear. The Black Travel Summit isn’t just a celebration of us, it’s a device that forces others to see us.

What do you think about the reason for the high rates of international travel among blacks?

I believe that the sharp rise in international travel among African Americans is not only an increase in disposable income and an awakening of awareness of the world outside the United States, but a new sense of freedom. Hundreds of years ago, I had stopped, if not regressed, black people’s sense of movement and free thought. Also, new generations with greater access to the world around us have created opportunities for both past and future people.

Describe how you became a good traveler.

As a black person who grew up in the UK to parents from East Africa and the Caribbean, immersion in these cultures and travel to these places has been the norm since the age of seven. I think that is what set the tone for my future. Also, I strongly believe that growing up in London is like being everywhere in the world at once, given its sheer diversity, and it sparked my desire to learn more through travel.

What can attendees expect from Voyage in Color?

The ability to see ourselves represented; Connect with our allies, influencers and the entrepreneurship ecosystem; Opportunities to travel more with holiday gifts and tips; And celebrate our creativity in travel. Simply put, a celebration of black culture in travel. I see it as just the beginning of a journey towards public awareness of our achievements and the enhancement of growth opportunities in tourism.

Are there any notable travel influencers participating in the conference?

We have many influencers joining us this year. Innovators like Martinique Lewis, President of the Black Travel Alliance, Phil Calvert aka Phil Culture, the first black male travel program host on the Matador Network, and Orion Brown, founder of the Beyoncé-Certified Black Travel Fund. This is just a small portion of the wonderful individuals who will be participating.

Who are the sponsors of your events?

Our most notable sponsors are Hyatt and American Airlines, but we also have the support of several international tourism authorities, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Miami DDA. Our full list can be seen on the website.

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