Webinar Discusses COVID-19’s Impact on Black Travel and Tourism Businesses

Blacks in Travel and Tourism’s Ecosystem Building Collaborative kickstarted its “Dollars and Sense” webinar series on June 11 with a conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on diverse organizations in the travel and tourism industry.

With over 300 audience members, the “Rebuild. Recover. Reposition.” webinar discussed strategies that Black hospitality businesses and cultural institutions can use to access resources in the COVID-19 marketplace and reposition themselves when the pandemic passes. 

The webinar was moderated by Solomon Herbert, publisher and editor-in-chief of Black Meetings and Tourism, and featured four panelists: Elliot Ferguson, President and CEO of Destination DC and Chair of the U.S. Travel Association; Erinn Tucker, Co-Founder of the DMV Black Restaurant Week and Associate Professor at Georgetown University; Jason Dunn, Sr., Chairman of the Board of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals and Group Vice President for Diversity Sales and Inclusion  of the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Betty Jones, Co-Founder and President of the Travel Professionals of Color. 

Throughout the discussion, the panelists said that the pandemic has created many hurdles that have deeply affected American business operations and corporate culture, such as losing the ability to host conventions and a national surge in unemployment. This is particularly hurting Black businesses, with Dunn noting that “COVID-19 is pushing diversity to the side.”

In response to these challenges, the panelists encouraged business leaders to expand the services they offer and increase their advertising. For example, Dunn suggested that businesses can overcome the pandemic’s international travel restrictions by spotlighting local destinations and services instead. 

In addition to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, the panelists also discussed strategies Black businesses can use to navigate the recent nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations. If Black business leaders support the movement, then the panelists encouraged them to publicly share their solidarity with consumers. 

Further, the panelists urged Black business leaders to take active steps towards actualizing their goals and missions. For example Tucker shared a story about how she helped a bar in Washington, D.C. celebrate Black people’s influence on mixology by developing a strategy to donate their proceeds to local charities. 

The webinar concluded with the panelists encouraging Black tourism and travel leaders to pursue every educational opportunity available to them and continue strengthening their virtual advertising strategies. 

For more information on Blacks in Travel and Tourism’s Ecosystem Building Collaborative, visit their website here

Article written by Jonathan Fragozo-Gonzalez on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association.