Black cultural heritage tours are being fostered across the U.S. to help travelers experience Black history and culture year-round, while supporting small Black-owned businesses. This could provide valuable lessons for communities across Asia to grow their local cultural tourism.
This year, Black History Month has a new meaning for many local Black tour operators who have been storytellers of Black history.
Yet, these small operators have not been able to share their stories to a global audience and profit the same as their white counterparts. Travel and tourism has excluded a whole segment of the industry from actively participating in it due to the financial investments required to be in the room at key industry events and high membership fees to join trade associations.
“Many Black tour operators and other minority suppliers were not fully participating and profiting in the industry full-time prior to the pandemic and many have closed their doors permanently since the pandemic,” says Stephanie M. Jones, Founder of the National Blacks in Travel and Tourism Collaborative and President of Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism, Inc., a Black-owned receptive tour operator based in Miami, FL.
With the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, there is now a heightened awareness and interest in the Black experience and culture in the U.S. among domestic and international visitors.
The itineraries create equitable opportunities for local Black-owned tour operators, restaurants, bed & breakfasts/boutique hotels, transportation providers, local artists, cultural attractions, and retailers. They aim to drive consistent tourists’ foot traffic and revenue to help underrepresented businesses become sustainable and scalable. They offer transformative experiences for culturally curious travelers to engage in responsible travel as their dollars directly support recovery and sustainability of these minority suppliers.
The inaugural SE region tour itineraries are available for booking beginning February 28th and will become operational September 2022. Additional tour itineraries covering more U.S. regions are in development and will go to market 2023-2024.
The first series of Black cultural heritage tour itineraries cover the SE region of the U.S., amplifying stories of the Gullah Geechee Corridor, Civil Rights Movement, Underground Railroad, Middle Passage, social and racial injustice, the Black church, culinary and cultural arts, and Black contemporary culture.
Sign up for updates about the SE region tour itineraries at www.experienceblackculture.com.