‘ABC Journey Inexperienced Book’ goals to redefine Black tourism in a contemporary approach
(CNN) – Wanderluster Martinique Lewis has achieved a kind of holy grail: turning her passion for travel into a full-blown career.
Lewis, who works as a content creator and diversity consultant, noticed a lack of diversity in the travel industry and was determined to change the status quo. Lewis found that travel publications and companies weren’t doing enough to target African American tourists, and she knew she had a problem worth resolving.
“I’m not represented anywhere and I know how much money I spend on travel each year,” Lewis told CNN. She uses her platform to help tourism associations and travel brands promote diversity and practice inclusion.
Her most recent work, the ABC Travel Green Book, is a self-published directory listing black-owned businesses, restaurants, communities, tours and festivals in the US and abroad.
For two years she curated the travel guide based on research and personal travel experience. Lewis describes it as a source to “connect the African diaspora globally from AZ”.
The ABC Travel Green Book is a self-published directory listing black-owned businesses, restaurants, communities, tours, and festivals in the US and abroad.
Entries like this promote black businesses, but also represent the presence of blacks in spaces where most people don’t even think to look.
Inspired by history
Green, a postal worker from New York, published the first edition of the book in 1936 and for three decades provided African American tourists with a trusted list of services and locations across America that served them without discrimination during the Jim Crow era.
Publication ceased until 1966 after the 1964 Civil Rights Act banned segregation in public accommodation. Black tourism looks completely different today, but Lewis says there is a void in representation when it comes to travel marketing and black travel narrative storytelling.
Martinique Lewis with Jilan Hall-Johnson, Managing Owner of The Sassy Biscuit Co., in Billings, Montana.
Courtesy Martinique Lewis
“I wanted to take a page out of his book and do the same, but I wanted to do it on an international level,” explains Lewis. “It not only helps black travelers but also black expats – especially if they move – to know which community is there for them in the desired location.”
African Americans contributed $ 63 billion to the US travel and tourism economy in 2018, according to a report by Mandala Research.
Lewis knows the meaning of this number and is working with several black tour groups to demand more diversity.
While Lewis and a group of her colleagues noticed while creating content that multiple accounts from tourism boards and travel brands participated in Blackout Tuesday, they also noticed a disconnect between their social media posts and their travel promotions.
“About 17 of my coworkers and I got together and said we had to do something about it because it was no longer okay for them to behave a certain way on social media but not prove it,” says Lewis.
Naughty Biscuit Co. Bruncherie in Billings, Montana is one of the black-owned companies on the directory.
Heidi Cooper Photography
They founded the Black Travel Alliance, which lists reinforcement, alliance and accountability as the three pillars of their community.
As President of the Alliance, Lewis refers to her book as a resource for tour operators to highlight unique travel destinations and groups such as black-owned brunch spots, bookstores, pilot associations and beyond.
“I gave you all of this information so the travel industry would have no excuses for why they didn’t share black stories – why they didn’t share these black stories,” says Lewis.
The categories in which the brands have been classified include the variety of traditional media, the variety at conferences and trade shows, and the variety of influencers chosen for travel.
Last year, Lewis spoke at the Facebook Travel Summit showcasing their variety of travel stories based on a rating of 55 popular travel brands.
Instagram / marty_sandiego
“With data and travel stories, Martinique does an incredible job of building diversity and inclusivity into the overall travel trip – both in the physical experience and in marketing,” said Colleen Coulter, director, travel industry director for global marketing solutions at Facebook.
“Her work highlights the importance of underrepresented travelers and how the industry needs to change to become more inclusive,” says Coulter. Coulter’s role on Facebook is to help the world’s largest travel brands thrive in a mobile world.
Go out and go
Lewis believes that thanks to Green’s work, black tourists can travel in a powerful way.
“Victor Hugo Green is not celebrated enough,” says Lewis. “He’s the reason my grandparents safely traveled from Tennessee to California. He’s the reason the blacks decided to get out and leave. “
For Lewis, the man on the cover of her book symbolizes the spirit of “getting out and about”.
On the cover, Phillip Calvert, a co-creator of rice content, wears lederhosen and holds the Black Power Salute after a successful hike up the Untersberg in Salzburg, Austria.
Lewis and Calvert joined forces in 2017 through Black Travel Journey, a travel blog and consulting agency. Since then, they have helped each other build their platforms in the Black Travel Space.
“He really embodies everything I think is travel and what travelers are supposed to do, and that connects with communities everywhere,” says Lewis.
A visit to Europe after college sparked Calvert’s love of travel and he began sharing his travels on social media for his family to see. His humorous and insightful videos caught the attention of the Matador Network, where he is hosting the show “Phil Good Travel,” a travel series for Matador Network available on YouTube.
“One of the things I look for when I travel is black-owned companies because I want to promote them,” says Calvert. “I’m really looking forward to a book like this because we can finally show black companies, and I think that’s amazing.”
Encourage, inspire and educate
Lewis also created the ABC Travel Green Book to provide black tourists and expats with a place where they can learn about their own history and connect with black communities in places they may not know about.
Experience Real Cartegena is dedicated to portraying an authentic story of the Colombian city.
Experience Real Cartegena
Black Heritage Tours is listed in the guide and explores the history of the Black Community in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The tour introduced Lewis to the history of slavery in Amsterdam after the Dutch colonization of places like Suriname, Guyana and Aruba.
“Everyone goes to Amsterdam in the red light district and doesn’t notice that when you walk around you just look up and see black faces on buildings,” said Lewis. “This is how people showed that they were rich: they showed that they had slaves.”
After her time there, she attended a Dutch university where she said the coursework had overlooked the historic presence of blacks in the Netherlands. Her tours make this presence visible through Amsterdam’s architecture, landscape and literature.
Naky Gaglo, founder of African Lisbon Tours, takes a tour group on an exploration of the history of the Portuguese slave trade.
African Lisbon tours
“What is unique about Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general is that so much of the black presence, so much of the colonial history in our architectural history is so well preserved,” explains Tosch. “You actually see this black presence on monuments, canal houses and museums. In a sense, the city becomes an archive. “
Tosch believes the “ABC Travel Green Book” can provide access for people of color, black tourists and especially allies who want to get past the “current narrative” of some popular travel destinations.
Lewis expands the meaning of her book with a call to action to people outside the diaspora who also want to encourage more diversity when traveling.
“This is for travelers everywhere who call themselves allies and say they want to support black voices and patronize black companies,” says Lewis. “This book helps you identify exactly where these people, these communities, these places are.”