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“ABC Travel Green Book” aims to redefine black tourism in a modern way

(CNN) – Wanderluster Martinique Lewis has achieved something of a holy grail: she has turned 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 grew determined to change the status quo. Travel publications and corporations weren’t doing enough to attract African American tourists, Lewis realized, and he knew he had a problem worth solving.

“There is no representation of me anywhere, and I know how much money I spend on traveling each year,” Lewis tells CNN. Use its platform to help tourism organizations and travel brands embrace diversity and practice inclusion.

Curated directory

His latest work, “ABC Travel Green Book,”
; is a self-produced directory listing black-owned businesses, restaurants, communities, tours, and festivals in the United States and abroad.

For two years he edited the guide based on research and personal travel experience. Lewis describes it as a source for “connecting the African diaspora globally from A to Z”.


“ABC Travel Green Book” is a self-published directory that lists black-owned businesses, restaurants, communities, tours, and festivals in the United States and abroad.

Ads like these promote black activities, but they also represent the presence of blacks in spaces where most people don’t think they’re looking.

Inspired by history

Green, a New York post office employee, published the first edition of the book in 1936 and for three decades provided African American tourists with a reliable list of services and locations across America that served them without discrimination during the Jim Crow era. .

In 1966 it ceased publication after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned segregation in public housing. Black tourism looks completely different today, but Lewis says there’s a void in representation when it comes to travel marketing and telling black travel stories.

Martinique Lewis with Jilan Hall-Johnson, managing director of The Sassy Biscuit Co., in Billings, Montana.

Martinique Lewis with Jilan Hall-Johnson, CEO of The Sassy Biscuit Co., in Billings, Montana.

Courtesy of Martinique Lewis

“Taking a page out of his book, I wanted to do the same kind of thing, but I wanted to do it internationally,” Lewis explains. “It not only helps black travelers, but helps black expats, especially if they move, to know which community is there for them in the desired location.”

Call for inclusion

According to a report by Mandala Research, African Americans contributed $ 63 billion to the travel and tourism economy in the United States in 2018.

Lewis knows the importance of that number and works with several black travel groups to ask for more diversity.

While Lewis and a group of his fellow content creators noticed several travel agency and travel brand accounts attending Blackout Tuesday, they also noticed a disconnect between their social media posts and their actions in the travel space.

“About 17 of my colleagues and I met and said, we need to do something because it’s no longer okay for them to act a certain way on social media, but not prove it,” Lewis says.

Sassy Biscuit Co. Bruncherie in Billings, Montana is one of the black-owned businesses on the list.

Sassy Biscuit Co. Bruncherie in Billings, Montana is one of the black-owned businesses on the list.

Photo by Heidi Cooper

They formed the Black Travel Alliance, which lists amplification, alliance and accountability as the three pillars of their community.

As president of the alliance, Lewis refers to his book as a resource for travel companies to highlight unique travel destinations and groups like Black-owned brunches, bookstores, pilot associations, and beyond.

“I gave you all this information, so the travel industry no longer has an excuse to explain why they don’t share black stories – why they don’t share these black stories,” Lewis says.

The categories in which the brands have been ranked include diversity in traditional media, diversity in conferences and trade shows, and diversity in influencers selected for travel.

Last year, Lewis spoke at Facebook's Travel Summit and presented his diversity in the travel report card based on a rating of 55 major travel brands.

Last year, Lewis spoke at Facebook’s Travel Summit and presented his diversity in the travel report card based on a rating of 55 major travel brands.

Instagram / marty_sandiego

“Using data and traveler stories, Martinique is doing an incredible job of supporting the creation of diversity and inclusiveness across the entire travel trip, physical experience and marketing,” says Colleen Coulter, director, industry travel manager, global marketing solutions on Facebook.

“His work highlights the importance of underrepresented travelers and how the industry needs to transform to be more inclusive,” says Coulter. Coulter’s role at Facebook is to help the world’s largest travel brands succeed in a world that favors mobile.

Get out and go

Lewis believes black tourists can engage with travel in a conscious way thanks to Green’s work.

“Victor Hugo Green isn’t celebrated enough,” says Lewis. “It’s the reason my grandparents were traveling safely from Tennessee to California. It’s the reason blacks decided to leave.”

For Lewis, the man on the cover of his book symbolizes the “get out and go” spirit.

On the cover, Phillip Calvert, another travel content creator, dons lederhosen and holds the salute of black power after a successful hike up Untersberg mountain in Salzburg, Austria.

Lewis and Calvert connected in 2017 via 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 feel traveling is and what travelers should do, and that’s connecting with communities wherever they go,” 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. His entertaining and insightful videos have caught the attention of the Matador Network where he hosts the show “Phil Good Travel”, a series of travels for the 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 so excited for a book like this because we can finally show black feats and I think it’s great.”

To encourage, inspire and educate

Lewis also made the “ABC Travel Green Book” to create a space for black tourists and expats to learn their history and connect with black communities in places they may not know.

This is one of the visits to a local home where our guests learn how to grind corn or rice. After the corn has been ground, it is boiled for a few minutes and the dough is obtained from which empanadas are made. If we boil the rice, we get a delicious rice-based drink called

Experience Real Cartegena is dedicated to showing visitors an authentic history of the Colombian city.

Experience the real Cartagena

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 following the Dutch colonization of places like Suriname, Guyana and Aruba.

“Everyone goes to Amsterdam in the red light district, not realizing as you walk all you have to do is look up and see black faces on the buildings,” according to Lewis. “This is how people have shown themselves to be rich: by proving they have slaves.”

After his time there, he went to a Dutch university where he says the courses overlooked the historic black presence in the Netherlands. His tours make that presence visible through Amsterdam’s architecture, landscape and literature.

Naky Gaglo, founder of African Lisbon Tours, with a group in Portugal. The tour explores the history of the Portuguese slave trade.

Naky Gaglo, founder of African Lisbon Tours, takes a group of tourists on an exploration of the history of the Portuguese slave trade.

African tour of Lisbon

“The peculiarity of Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general is that much of the black presence, much of the colonial history, is so well preserved in our architectural history,” explains Tosch. “You actually see this black presence on monuments, canal houses and museums. The city, in a sense, becomes an archive.”

Tosch believes the “ABC Travel Green Book” can open access to people of color, black tourists and especially allies who want to overcome the “current narrative” of some traditional travel destinations.

Lewis expands the meaning of his book with a call to action to people outside the diaspora who also want to support greater diversity in travel.

“This is for travelers around the world who call themselves allies and who say they want to support black voices and protect black businesses,” says Lewis. “This book helps you identify where exactly those people, those communities, those places are.”

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