Tourism: African America, Tomiko Harvey of the Black Travel Alliance Pushes for Equity in Tourism

Tomiko

Tomiko Harvey, vice president of the Black Travel Alliance, an organization formed in response to last summer’s racial justice movement is poised to be a true voice for Black travel writers, broadcasters, podcasters and others around the world.

According to nashvillescene.com, the African American pushing for equity in tourism in one of the country’s famous tourism hub, Nashville, a top tourist destination for travellers from around the world.

Tomiko Harvey is the vice president of the Black Travel Alliance, an organization formed in response to last summer’s racial justice movement and poised to be a true voice for Black travel writers, broadcasters, podcasters and others around the world.

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Says Harvey, “We saw a lot of travel brands posting black squares, saying they’re in solidarity with Black people, yet those same brands were not working with Black content creators, posting them on their Instagram feed or reflecting diversity in their leadership positions.”

Nearly 20 travel and tourism writers and creators agreed, and they decided to come together for a common purpose — pushing for diversity and inclusion in travel media — and the Black Travel Alliance was born.

The alliance’s first initiative was the #PullUpforTravel campaign. After seeing all of those black squares, BTA put out a call for travel brands and organizations that used the #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackOutTuesday hashtags to share their 2019 key performance indicators for diversity measures.

The alliance created the Black Travel Scorecard, which assessed Black representation in employment, conferences and tradeshows, advertising and marketing campaigns, and media and press trips — as well as charitable contributions made to Black charities and community groups. Sixty-seven brands and companies replied. Findings suggested that the travel industry had a long way to go.

“It’s about economics and revenue,” says Harvey. “Can brands afford to say they do not want to be a part of the $129 billion tourism dollars spent by the African American consumer?”

BTA is a new resource within the tourism industry, directly connecting brands with Black media makers, and connecting media makers with grants, scholarships and opportunities for employment and professional development.

Brands can also benefit from joining the alliance, whether they are owned by Black entrepreneurs or not. BTA’s mission includes conducting research about Black travelers that will help brands improve revenue, image and diversity strategies.

At just over a year old, BTA has already partnered with several leading travel and tourism organizations. With the multi-university and interdisciplinary research and outreach initiative Tourism RESET, BTA created the History of Black Travel project, which includes a timeline of significant people and events in Black travel.

The timeline dates back to 1492, when Afro-Spanish explorer Pedro Alonso Niño and his brothers helped lead Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas, and chronicles the growth of Black communities in the U.S., trailblazing pilots, the Great Migration and much more.

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BTA worked with marketing strategy group MMGY Travel Intelligence to publish “The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities and Priorities,” a report that aggregates and analyzes spending habits of Black travelers worldwide. The Alliance was among the recipients of Travel + Leisure’s 2021 Global Vision Award, which recognizes leaders in the industry.

Harvey has been a travel writer for many years, managing her online publication Passports & Grub, “a luxury lifestyle publication for Black women.” Scrolling through her website, you will find beautiful pictures and thoughtful storytelling that take you on the journey with her to places as near as St. Louis, Mo., and as far as Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Harvey is focused on encouraging family travel and creating lifelong memories, so it was a natural fit for her to join the BTA family and advocate for other Black media creators.

BTA is actively looking for amazing travel professionals, bloggers, journalists and podcasters to join the alliance. “Our three pillars are alliance, amplification and accountability,” says Harvey. “We want Black content creators to be amplified, and we want to hold these travel brands accountable. … We are going to continue to train and educate tourism boards and travel brands on the importance of diversity.”

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