Traveling with kids, taking care of your mental health on the road, traveling while Black – these are some of the topics an upcoming webinar hosted by the Miami-based Black Travel Summit will highlight this weekend.
The two-day virtual event will bring together 26 speakers from around the globe, including content creators and a director for the Seychelles Tourism Board. The event runs from Oct. 17-18 and is sponsored in part by the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which will deliver a keynote address Sunday.
“This is a celebration of people of color in the travel space,” said Anita François, founder of the Black Travel Summit. “We’re trying to create a connection between us and the travel industry by fostering collaboration with influencers and encouraging partnerships.”
Attendees can register online at blacktravelsummit.com. General admission is free, but up to 500 VIP tickets ranging from $20 to $70 dollars include vendor discounts and a lifetime membership to the Black Travel Summit. Part of the proceeds will go to Dream Defenders, a social justice nonprofit.
VIP tickets come with a curated gift box containing samples from Black-owned brands.
The conference, titled “Movement,” will include breakout sessions featuring yoga and a cooking demo, as well as presentations about living as an expat, building a brand and travel writing.
Other sessions include a presentation by a mental health professional who will target self care and a historian who will talk about Black History Month in the United Kingdom, which is celebrated in October.
Black travelers are a valuable and untapped audience for the industry, according to Mandala Research, a tourism and travel research firm. Black Americans spent $63 billion on travel, according to the firm’s 2018 report, and the number is expected to grow to $90 billion in coming years.
But representation is lacking, said François. She founded the summit about two years ago, encouraged by her own experiences as a British expat in the U.S. and a lifelong traveler born to an east African mother and Haitian-American father.
“When you don’t see yourself in the mainstream travel media, or on a billboard or taking a cruise you almost feel like, is this for me? Is this something I can do? Is it safe for me as a person of color, because I know how America views people of color but how do other countries view people of color?” François said. “Black people have always been traveling, but now the world finally has the opportunity to have a glimpse into what it looks like when people of color travel because of social media.”
In recent years, content creators have carved out a niche for themselves, agrees Ernest White, creator of the blog Fly Brother and host of the travel docu-series “Fly Brother with Ernest White II,” which aired this year on PBS.
“Right now we’re going through a major societal transformation and travel from different perspectives, including a Black perspective, has risen to the top of the social zeitgeist,” said White.
His presentation Saturday will focus on empowering people to be themselves as they travel the globe.
“If you type in ‘family travel’ in Google images, you won’t see families that look like mine. Even if you just type in traveler,” said Monet Hambrick, founder of the Miramar-based The Traveling Child, a website that inspires parents to take trips around the globe with their kids.
Hambrick’s presentation Saturday – Life After Family – will focus on self care as well as family and solo trips.
“I want to teach women that once they’ve had children, travel is not over. Not only can you travel with them, you can continue to have your own adventures, too,” Hambrick said.
Her own two children – 4 and 6 years old – have been to six continents and multiple countries. Their adventures inspired her to write the children’s book “The Traveling Child Goes to Rio de Janeiro,” which was published last year.
“It’s important for me to diversify the bookshelves for children and for non-people of color to buy the book and their kids to see other kids doing things and for Black children to see themselves in a book about travel,” Hambrick said.
This weekend’s conference is just the beginning for the Black Travel Summit, François said. Plans for the future include trips for members, additional conferences, and in-person events.
“We want the information to be as useful as a possible,” she said.