Black Travel Summit Founder Curates Experiences To Expand Black Voices In Travel Industry

Black Travel Summit Founder Curates Experiences To Expand Black Voices In Travel Industry

Anita Francois, a UK-born islander with Seychellois and Haitian heritage, leveraged her traveling passion and archaeology background to birth a vision that supports and empowers the cultural Black traveler demographic.

In 2019, her vision came alive in Black Travel Summit. Held in Miami, FL, the BTS team curates a year-round event experience “celebrating Black travel industry professionals and travelers, with an emphasis on the Millennial and Gen Z audience,” according to the company website. BTS strives to expand Black and diverse voices within the traveling industry through continuing education, networking events, collaboration opportunities, and more.
“Travel is not a new thing for Black people, globally and historically, it is just something we are revisiting in an age of technology, which has helped to speed up the pace through channels like social media and communications,” Francois, BTS CEO, told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “This is one thing that we have to remember. We are never new to the game or catching up, we’re only rediscovering.”
Black Travel Summit has taken its efforts up a notch as they gear up for Voyage in Color, a three day global summit and celebration of Black travel culture and the achievements of Black travel professionals. The event is scheduled to take place from June 17-19, 2022, and virtually from June 25-26, 2022.
Photo Courtesy of Anita Francois

“Black travelers represent a $160 billion-a-year business. At Black Travel Summit, we are of the community and for the community, and I truly believe that we are stronger together,” Francois said.

“There is an underestimated amount of talent in the industry that often goes unrecognized.”

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

What prompted you to create Black Travel Summit? 

Becoming an Archaeologist made one thing clearer to me; that people of the African Diaspora are hardly recognized for our contributions to society. Black Travel Summit was my way of tying this shared passion of travel within a space that highlights entrepreneurs, businesses, and innovators who look like me, and facilitates connections that can help us to grow in this society.

What resources does it offer that are unique to  the industry?

Connections to well established brands in travel and tourism, and a platform for renowned and less-renowned pace setters who wouldn’t often have their voices heard. Black Travel Summit is not only the celebration of us, it’s a device that compels others to see us.

What do you think has caused the spike in international travel among Black people?

I believe that the spike in international travel among African-Americans is not only an increase in disposable income and a reawakened awareness of the world outside of the U.S., but a new sense of freedom. The past several hundred years has paused, if not regressed Black people’s sense of movement and free-thinking. Also, new generations having more access to the world around us, has created opportunities for both people of the past and the future.

Describe how you became well-traveled.

As a Black person raised in the U.K. to East African and Caribbean parents, immersion in these cultures and traveling to these places has been the norm since the age of 7. I think this is what set the tone for my future. Also, I highly believe that being raised in London is like being everywhere in the world at once, due to its immense diversity, and sparked my desire to learn more through travel.

What can attendees expect from Voyage in Color?

Being able to see ourselves represented; networking with our allies, influencers and entrepreneurial ecosystem; opportunities to travel more through vacation giveaways and tips; and celebrating our creativity in travel. Simply put, a celebration of Black culture in travel. I see it as just the beginning of a voyage towards general awareness of our achievements and a promotion of opportunities for growth in tourism.

Are there any notable travel influencers participating in the conference?

We have several influencers joining us this year. Innovators like Martinique Lewis, the President of Black Travel Alliance, Phil Calvert aka Phil the Culture, the first Black male Travel Show Host on the Matador Network, and Orion Brown, Founder of the Beyoncé-approved Black Travel Box. This is just a small fraction of the amazing individuals who will be participating.

Who are your events sponsors?

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