I am thrilled about this announcement as part of my dedication to pushing the Black travel movement and my commitment to educate, encourage, and empower Black people to travel the world, this day holds special significance. National Black Travel Day is now an annual event, commemorated each year on November 11th to pay tribute to the extraordinary achievements of Capt. Barrington Irving. A Miami native of Jamaican American descent, Capt. Irving achieved an extraordinary milestone in 2007, becoming both the first Black person and the youngest pilot to solo-circumnavigate the world. What makes his feat even more remarkable is that he constructed the plane himself.
Anita Francois, the CEO and founder of the Black Travel Summit, shed light on the inspiration behind this day of significance. She expressed, “What we really wanted to do was to figure out a unique way to designate a day of importance to this space, to the Black travel movement, in honor of someone who is really special, and Barrington Irving was a perfect person to do it.” It’s worth noting that the celebration of National Black Travel Day coincided with Capt. Irving’s 40th birthday, underscoring his continued commitment to education through his program called Experience Aviation, which serves as a source of inspiration for young students pursuing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
Anita Francois, born and raised in London, recounted her early passion for travel, which had ignited at the tender age of 7. These cherished memories of her adventures on the road were intermingled with a stark realization—she was often among the few Black travelers during her journeys. The scarcity of fellow Black travelers left a profound impact on her.
As a graduate student at University College London, Francois delved into archaeology with a particular focus on the African diaspora. Her academic pursuits led her to discover little-known Afro-Indigenous communities scattered across the globe, intensifying her interest in representation within the travel industry. In approximately 2015, she stumbled upon the Black Travel Movement, a transformative moment that left her deeply inspired.
At its core, National Black Travel Day is a celebration of Black travelers and Black travel professionals. It is a moment to embrace and honor diversity within the travel industry. The day represents an opportunity for brands to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) while shining a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of Black travel professionals. This commitment to recognizing and supporting the Black travel community is envisioned as an annual tradition, fostering ongoing progress in the diversification of the travel space.
An intimate gathering of Black travel and tourism leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals recently convened at the esteemed Red Rooster establishment, marking the observance of National Black Travel Day—a holiday that serves to recognize and celebrate the vibrant Black travel community. Amidst a backdrop of drinks, delectable cuisine, and uplifting music, this event saw the presence of numerous esteemed community leaders and tourism professionals. Among those in attendance were Board of County Commissioners Chair Oliver Gilbert III, Neki Mohan, Vice President of Multicultural Business and Community Engagement at Visit Lauderdale, and Connie Kinnard, Senior Vice President of Multicultural Tourism and Development at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
As the festivities unfolded, the Black Travel Summit received heartening news from cities across the country, all of whom were also honoring this special day.
National Black Travel Day, marked annually on November 11th, holds a deep significance as it pays homage to Capt. Barrington Irving. A Miami native of Jamaican American heritage, Capt. Irving achieved the remarkable feat of becoming the first Black person and the youngest pilot to circumnavigate the world alone in 2007. What makes his journey even more awe-inspiring is the fact that he built the plane himself.
Anita Francois, CEO, and founder of the Black Travel Summit, spoke passionately about the inception of National Black Travel Day, emphasizing the importance of designating a day of significance to honor the Black travel movement. She highlighted Capt. Barrington Irving as a perfect symbol of this celebration. Interestingly, the day of the celebration also marked Capt. Irving’s 40th birthday, showcasing his continued dedication to the field. He now leads an educational program called Experience Aviation, aimed at inspiring young students in STEM fields.
The Black Travel Summit played a pivotal role in spearheading the creation of National Black Travel Day in September, furthering its commitment to supporting the Black travel movement. Francois shed light on the essence of this movement, describing it as a space where individuals can freely express themselves, build a sense of community, network, and engage in discussions about safe travel destinations that acknowledge and represent their diverse needs and backgrounds.
The Black travel movement carries a powerful mission—to empower the Black community and harness its collective spending ability, which amounts to over $1.5 trillion. Remarkably, Black travelers in the U.S. alone spent more than $109 billion in 2019, as highlighted by the Black Travel Alliance. This movement aims to reclaim the narrative, ensuring that Black travelers are not just welcomed but celebrated and fully accommodated in their diverse travel experiences.
In the era of social media, the growing number of well-traveled Black individuals is becoming increasingly evident. Yet, the value of the Black community to the travel industry, both in terms of its economic impact and cultural significance, often remains underestimated. In a quest to shed light on the vital contributions of Black travel professionals and the substantial economic influence of Black travelers on the tourism sector, Anita Francois, the founder of the Black Travel Summit, recently unveiled November 11th as the official National Black Travel Day. This momentous occasion serves as a tribute to Barrington Irving, who made history by becoming the first Black person to solo-circumnavigate the globe by plane in 2007, and to commemorate his birthday.
Written by Noirbnb Experience Director Holli Sills, follow her on Instagram @just_holli
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