Black travel businesses devastated by cancellations due to COVID-19

The final episode of theGrio's Facebook Watch series 'Staying In Business' showcases the plight of Black-owned hostels, Airbnb hosts, lifestyle vloggers, and more.

BOSTON, MA – MARCH 13: A passenger wearing rubber gloves pulls her luggage in the international terminal of Logan Airport. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

As more people grow more hesitant to travel and bans prohibit global excursions, the people who earn an income by servicing vacationers are making changes to remain profitable during the pandemic.

The final episode of theGrio‘s Facebook Watch series Staying In Business showcases the real-life plight of Black-owned hostels, Airbnb hosts, lifestyle vloggers, and more.

READ MORE: theGrio’s ‘Staying In Business’ explores Black restaurants facing COVID-19

“When 45 had his press conference telling everybody from abroad to get home, we were literally walking into the Taj Mahal,” shares Evita Robinson, founder of NOMADNESS Travel Tribe with theGrio. “We were in Agra, India, I had a group of 45 Nomadness members on our biggest trip.”

Through her company, Robinson provides a digital community for Black and brown travelers all over the world. NOMADNESS Travel Tribe’s largest event, Audacity, scheduled to bring over 1,000 people to New York this summer, is now postponed as a result of COVID-19. Robinson has now transformed the event into a digital mixer, with the first Audacity Digi taking place on May 30, 2020.

While she was able to pivot online, others in the industry are not as lucky. For hosts who list their properties on the popular homestay sharing app Airbnb, the halt in travel means a halt in reservations and a resulting halt in profit.

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A passenger wearing rubber gloves pulls her luggage in the international terminal of Logan Airport. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

“Cancellations have been through the roof, we literally have no bookings right now,” shares Morgan Richard. She hosts an Airbnb in New Orleans along with her mother. The mother-daughter duo decided to enter the world of hospitality so the matriarch would no longer have to work. Now since the coronavirus pandemic, the reservations have drastically shifted, leaving the family with minimal income.

Figures reported by theGrio show that Black travelers have grown in economic value throughout the past decade. From 2010 to 2018, spending power has increased from $48 billion to $63 billion for African Americans on the move.

Travel reporter and TV host Dayvee Sutton encourages creativity for businesses and brands hoping to survive the pandemic. “I have a streaming travel show that’s on Amazon video and that has increased during this quarantine to kind of wanderlust through video programming,” she tells theGrio. 

READ MORE: theGrio launches Facebook Watch series covering plight of Black-owned businesses during COVID-19

She continues, “If you have video or other content, people are enjoying looking back at some of those old pictures that you might have. As far as earning income, more people have started their e-commerce businesses.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters believes small minority and women-owned businesses need more assistance.

“Throughout my career, I have focused on the fact that there has been inequality in the business world,” Water says. “Inequality that’s relegated our minority depository institutions, what is known as CDFI, (Community Development Financial Institutions), to literally be underfunded.”

To watch all episodes of Staying In Business, visit theGrio’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thegrio. 

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