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In this episode, I talk to Martinique Lewis. She has been making waves in the travel industry, pushing back against a historically white-centric travel narrative and making way for a wider acceptance of black travel and tourism.
In 2018, African American travelers added $63 billion to the US tourism economy, according to a Mandala Research survey. Martinique is determined to expose the world to this significant contribution.
Today, I get to talk to her about her new book, The ABC Travel Green Book. She is about to open doors and get more black travelers to live their best lives in some of the most unexpected places around the world!
Purchase the Book
Let’s get into it:
[00:52] Introducing Martinique Lewis
Martinique Lewis is a black travel content creator and President of the Black Travel Alliance. She has been actively involved in opening up the conversation around black travel, and she has played an integral role in getting the world to recognize and acknowledge black travelers.
[04:00] The Black Travel Movement
Over the past decade, black travel has grown tremendously. Not only that, many in our generation are the first in their families to travel internationally. With the industry historically disinterested in black travel, and the lack of representation in advertising and tourism, the Black Travel Movement has been gaining traction and enacting change within the travel industry.
The number of opportunities to travel abroad increased the number of black expats abroad, which increased the number of their friends and family who travelled to them. From those places, they are able to travel to other places that would take much longer to reach from the US.
The advent of Social media has played a great role, with more black travel influencers giving the movement more exposure.
[07:09] How are black travellers treated around the world when they travel?
It depends where you go – some places have very few, if any, black people. That means that you could end up in a place where the people have never even seen a black person before. Getting weird looks isn’t automatically a bad thing. Sometimes, people will stare because they’re truly intrigued and curious, and other times people will stare because they don’t like you.
[08:16] The inspiration and purpose of The ABC Travel Green Book
Martinique’s book, The ABC Travel Green Book, could perhaps be seen as the spiritual successor to the “Negro Motorist Green Book” written by Victor Hugo Green in 1936. She decided to take the Green Book concept and expand it to include both local and international black tourist spaces.
Victor Hugo Green is one of the great inspirations behind the Black Travel Movement – his Green Book helped black travelers find safe/non-discriminatory places to go to during the Jim Crow era.
[12:42] Creating something globally meaningful
When you start something, obviously you set out to make some sort of difference. Martinique’s Green Book has done that, and more. She has created something that has connected with people all over the world and inspired a global interest in black tourism – not only black travelers, but also black-run/owned businesses and locations for travelers to add to their bucket list.
Sure, Amsterdam has the Red Light District, but have you been to Reggae Rita’s, the Jamaican restaurant in Amsterdam? The more you know.
[14:52] More Green Books coming up!
The world is constantly changing. As old places close down, new ones open up. There are currently so many places to add to the book. To include and represent as many places as possible, she’s going to have to publish different editions, such as “The Green Book: Africa Edition” and possibly even separate editions for each country.
Another development coming up is a travel app, for those travelers who are more tech savvy.
[17:13] Gathering the information for the book
Martinique doesn’t want to give travellers untrustworthy information.
She’s partnered up with travel boards, and verified trusted local travel advisors in places where she hasn’t been able to be herself.
[18:27] What’s inside the ABC Travel Green Book?
The book’s quick guide helps travellers find certain things based on preferences, such as black-owned ski resorts, black cruises, black vegan restaurants, black bookstores, black-run airports, black wineries and distilleries, and the list goes on
[21:02] Words of Wisdom
Martinique gives travellers some inspiration to travel – and it doesn’t need to be international travel.
Don’t be confined to your city. Take that 45-minute drive to another town or city and experience the culture – it’s almost guaranteed to be different!
But also, don’t stop there. Take a 4-hour drive across the country. When you’re ready, get your passport and start collecting those international stamps! Get outside the comforts of your bubble and experience the world – I guarantee that you will not only learn more about other cultures and people, but you will learn more about yourself as well.
[23:24] Travelling Solo
It’s always interesting as someone who works in the travel industry, that we don’t really travel for the sake of travelling.
Usually, the trip starts with the intention of having a vacation, but it turns into a work trip – you find something that you feel you need to document to help clients, or you have your laptop with you and you’re constantly plugged in to your work.
[25:56] The Black Travel Alliance
There is a group of black influencers, travellers, and content creators who have taken it upon themselves to create alliances with international organizations to help them create a greater awareness and become more inclusive to the black demographic globally.
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Check out the links to some of the things mentioned in this episode:
- The Erica James Travel Show Podcast Community
- Erica James on Instagram
- EJtheTravelDiva YouTube Channel
- Martinique Lewis’ Website
- Martinique Lewis on Instagram
- Martinique Lewis on Twitter
- The ABC Travel Green Book on Instagram
- Nomadness Travel Tribe on Instagram
- Black Travel Alliance on Instagram
- Black Travel Alliance on Facebook
Martinique Lewis in the Media: