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How Black Travel Entrepreneurs Are Adapting To Coronavirus
First came the shutdown orders, followed by the travel restrictions. Next thing we know, the tourism industry came to a standstill all due to COVID-19.
Major events have been either canceled or postponed, airlines have asked the federal government for help, hotels are closing, and employees are being furloughed.
“As a free-spirited nomad who’s traveled the world full time for the last 3 years, this has shaken me up a bit,” Tameika of TameikaG Fitness Inc. told Travel Noire. “Overnight, I’ve had to find a place to live, indefinitely, and shift to a life of stillness.”
Neither the Great Depression nor the 9/11 terrorist attacks caused the kind of devastation the novel coronavirus has created. The virus has impacted all facets of our lives from work, leisure, sports, and travel.
Total spending on travel in the United States alone, including transportation, lodging, retail, attractions, and restaurants, is projected to plunge by $355 billion for the year. That is reportedly six times greater than the impact of 9/11, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association.
“In just 2 weeks we received over 150 cancellations losing over $75,000 in revenue. Our occupancy went from an average of 65% to 70% to a shocking 5%,” Deidre Mathis, owner of WanderStay Hotels, America’s first black-owned hostel, told Travel Noire.
And while the federal government has provided more than $2 trillion in relief to battle the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneurs have been forced to find creative ways to stay afloat.
“Like everyone else in the tourism industry this coronavirus pandemic has brought a hard financial hit,” Daniel Pappoe, founder of the travel company Coming To Ghana Movement said. “We will be launching our business online shortly in the US. We [will] sell raw, unrefined Shea Butter from The Northern Region Of Ghana and Black Soap as we don’t know how long this pandemic will last or what the long term impact will be.”
Tamieka said that while the transition hasn’t been easy, she is working on ways to support her tribe virtually through online retreats, coaching, and workshops.
“We’re currently working on launching a few new and exciting online programs,” she said. “Our 21-day downloadable program is geared towards helping people jumpstart their wellness journey as it focuses on Mindset, Nutrition, and Fitness.”
For Brian Oliver, founder of BMore See More, nonprofit empowering male students in Baltimore City through education, mentorship, and travel, he’s had to make some adjustments for his students but remains hopeful that things will pick back up in the future.”
“BMore See More was supposed to begin our Cohort 1 program this spring with high school students from Baltimore. There were trips in the making that were impacted. We are now planning to begin in the fall hopefully, if not Spring 2021,” he said.
How To Support Black-Owned Businesses During COVID-19 Pandemic
It’s no secret that Black-owned businesses have historically faced disproportionate barriers to funding for their businesses.
Out of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Congress only allocated $10 million to the Minority Business Development Agency. That’s why Black-owned companies are turning to their consumers for help.
“As far as support, I’d be grateful for people to continue to donate to the organization by sponsoring passports or making other monetary contributions so that we can move forward when we resume,” Brian told Travel Noire.
For Deidre, she’s been using this time to raise awareness and funds for nonprofit Wander Abroad, which aims to make studying abroad easier for students.
There’s also a Twitter hashtag for Black-owned businesses that has gone viral and you can find more Black-owned businesses to support on Travel Noire’s website by clicking here.