Africa Travel Week

15 BAME High Fliers in the Travel Industry

You can’t be what you can’t see is a phrase we hear time and time again. Studies show that role models are an incredibly effective way to encourage women to make different choices. Their effect is based on the concept ‘Seeing is believing’, and interestingly this works at multiple levels. 

Black History Month in the UK is a welcome opportunity to celebrate within our wider communities and highlight current exceptional female talent from a BAME background in the travel industry.

Speaking about this initiative BAME Women in Travel Executive Director, Jamie-Lee Abtar, said:

“BAME men and women are still underrepresented in the UK travel industry, and often young BAME talent overlooks the travel industry as they don’t see many who ‘look like them’ in positions of authority. This list and our recent podcast series aims to address that. In a similar vein, we are calling on other BAME senior role models to get in touch and volunteer or register as mentors.” 

You can also hear the trailblazing stories of some of those featured in this list on the Women in Travel new podcast ‘Breakthrough to Excellence’.

Dee Gibson
Hotelier and Interior Designer

Dee Gibson is a London based Interior Designer and Hotelier and a regular speaker and panelist for the BIID. In 2017 Dee built luxury, boutique hotel Kalukanda House from scratch. In September 2020 Dee was included in the finalist list of a national award in the ‘Most Inspiring Business Woman’ category. Kalukanda House was a finalist in the UK national ‘Best Women in Business award’ for Best New Business 2019 and has recently joined the HIP Hotel collection as one of only 3 hotels on the island in their portfolio.

Dee’s thoughts on the future of travel: An instinctive calling for ethically planned adventures shaped by emotional, human interactions and a natural desire to share and fiercely celebrate the diversity we all discover on the way.

Fiona Anderson
Company Director: GEC PR

Fiona has enjoyed a twenty-year PR career, spanning corporate, lifestyle and travel spheres. Fiona’s client experience includes premium travel brands that include Conrad, Kimpton and Hilton hotels and resorts, and PR for travel disruptors Click&Boat as well as destinations as diverse as India, the Maldives, the Philippines, Jamaica, Kyoto in Japan and Breckenridge, Colorado.

Fiona’s thoughts on the future of travel: Extremely challenging! COVID-19 has already inflicted much damage on the travel industry. I expect multiple industry issues for all travel organisations to contend with in the coming months. Primarily survival, then retaining and attracting a diverse pool of talent in order to prosper and grow.

Naledi K. Khabo
CEO: The Africa Tourism Association

Naledi K. Khabo is a global strategy leader with over 25 years’ experience within Operations, Marketing & Technology.

Naledi currently serves as Chief Executive at the Africa Tourism Association (ATA), a global trade association promoting travel and tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships. ATA serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry.  During her tenure at ATA, Naledi has led the organization through significant operational changes including the launch of new digital platforms to serve the hospitality and tourism industry.

Naledi’s thoughts on the future of travel: Tourism is an ever-changing dynamic landscape. As a matter of survival, we must evolve and adapt quickly, embracing innovation, collaboration and all aspects of diversity across the industry.

Mo Talukder
Sales Director, Geotourist

Sales Director at Geotourist,  a multi-award winning mobile disruptive GPS travel technology, data analytics and mapping solution. Mo’s role involves working across the globe with clients from USA, Caribbean, Europe right through to the Middle East and AsiaPacific regions. Assisting governments, tourism boards, private, public and charities with their digital tourism strategies and helping to solve their current and future challenges. As Sales Director she has been responsible for Geotourist winning several awards, including Gold winner 2018 at World Travel Market and Group Travel Awards and finalist for 3 more in 2019.

Mo’s thoughts on the future of travel: Safe.  Experiential.  Flexible.  Spontaneous.  Service.  Local.  Tech-enabled.  New Food.  Undiscovered.  Increasedrail.  Domestic.  Conscious.  Easy.  Pampered.  Escape.  Responsible.  Exciting. Independent.  Selective.  Seamless.  Sustainable.

Patrice Mantey
Head of Joint Ventures & Commercial Planning: Virgin Atlantic

Patrice is the Head of Joint Ventures & Commercial Planning for Virgin Atlanic. An airline veteran she joined the industry after training as a Chartered Accountant with PWc, Patrice has developed both her Financial & Commercial acumen to rise expeditiously through the ranks. She most recently led the formation of the ground-breaking Joint Venture relationship between Virgin Atlantic, Delta & Air France KLM. Patrice is also a highly qualified Executive Coach and Personal Development advocate, specialising in Women’s Development Programmes and Reverse Mentoring. Her efforts on building an inclusive environment for all has been publicly recognised by Richard Branson.

Patrice’s thoughts on the future of travel: the future of travel will be focused on partnerships & collaboration through the supply chain in order to ensure the long-term viability of the industry.

Martinique Lewis
President: Black Travel Alliance

Martinique Lewis is a diversity in travel consultant, creative lead for nomadness tribe, founding member of the black travel alliance and now you can add creator of The ABC Travel Greenbook! The number one resource connecting travelers to the African Diaspora Globally.  Trusted amongst her peers as a ‘connector’ she is always connecting the dots to ensure the travel industry is mindful of diversity, not just as a ‘Buzzword’, but an action that produces results. Her  mission is to change the face of tourism forever, so that we all feel represented and see ourselves reflected!

Martinique’s thoughts on the future of travel: It looks extremely different! Visibly the industry will finally match with the reality of who actually travels. Diversity and Inclusion will take priority, and there’s no going back.

Sheree Mitchell
President and Founder: Immersa Global 

President and founder of Immersa Global, an upscale destination management company that specializes in designing and executing award-winning multi-day travel curated programs, boutique meetings and events for discerning international clients. Mitchell is also known within the industry as a thought-leader and speaks regularly at travel and tourism conferences throughout the U.S. and Europe on topics that include: wine and culinary product development, tourism products for discerning clients, as well as making travel inclusive for women and affluent travelers of colour. One of her favourite sayings is: “Be daring enough to dream big and resilient enough to make it happen.”

Sheree’s thoughts on the future of travel: The future of travel will focus on digitalization, sustainability, and inclusivity while also demanding consumer-focused features such as flexible reservation policies, enhanced hygiene measures, and personalization.

Carol Hay
CEO / Founder: McKenzie Gayle Limited
(Global Tourism Marketing)

A highly respected thought leader and tourism strategist in International Travel and Tourism Industry. Carol is the CEO / Founder at McKenzie Gayle Limited focused on Global Tourism Marketing. She has a successful track record in leading the Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK office for over 10 years as well as developing and leading diverse multicultural teams, international business leadership with a proficiency in cultural diplomacy. Carol is currently the representation Agency for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Chapter UK & Europe and Adviser to Project Management for Sustainable Development PM4SD.

Carol’s thoughts on the future of travel: Travel will return, there is pent up demand; health and safety combined with transformational experiences will top travellers lists.  Social distancing is the new luxury!

Brandie Deignan
Managing Director: Marco Pierre White Resturants: Black & White Hospitality

Brandie Deignan has built an impressive career across hospitality, retail and aviation-holding senior leadership roles in Hilton Hotels, Travelodge Hotels, Whitbread Plc, Tesco Plc, British Airways plc and Marco Pierre White Restaurants. Passionate about people, customers and brands, Brandie was recently voted No 41 of the Top Listening Leaders and is also a finalist at the Black British Business Awards 2020, Consumer and Leisure Senior Leader Category. Describing herself as one part mom, two parts business and three parts all things branded, Brandie insists she still gets goose bumps when she walks into a hospitality establishment and just can not contain her excitement. Brandie is passionate about education and gender diversity and supports schools, colleges and universities in this area as well as holding advisory board positions in this space.

Brandie’s thoughts on the future of travel:

  • T – The future buzz will be travellers , not tourism
  • R-  Reality is that the Internet of Things will be where it’s at
  • A– Air travel will definitely be back
  • V- Virtual reality will be reign
  • E– Experiences will become even more personalised
  • L- Laser molecule scanning is closer than we think
Cherrie Osborne
Director of Tourism UK & Europe | Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

With over 15 years of experience under her belt as a destination marketer, Cherrie Osborne has become a familiar name in the tourism industry, not just in the United Kingdom, but across Europe and in the Caribbean. Currently, Cherrie is responsible for strategic promotions and campaigns in the UK and Europe and is widely known for applying her creative way of thinking and her passion for ‘stand out’  activations. Cherrie remains very active in the industry and is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and was a board member of the Association of National Tourist Office Representatives.

Cherrie’s thoughts on the future of travel: The landscape of travel has changed forever. This year has truly hit the reset button on the industry and there’s been a global realisation of how complacent we have all become. Travel will become slower, more authentic and far more considered as both the industry and consumers have learnt a greater appreciation for what constitutes as responsible and important. We will see a rise in the conscious traveller – environmentally minded, compassionate with the destinations and the communities they are visiting and the impact they will make.  We also hope to see more diversity – demographics will be less centre stage and instead the industry will hone in on the interests, the needs of travellers.

Cecelia Adjei
Brand Partnerships Manager at VisitBritain

Cecelia’s passion for travel, marketing and culture motivated her to land a role at VisitBritain, the national tourism agency for Britain. Joining the company as an intern – Cecelia is now responsible for domestic and international brand partnership activity across lifestyle verticals. Her role involves: scoping & securing opportunities, strategic planning and leading on developing compelling international marketing campaigns to encourage tourism to Britain. Cecelia has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands across various sectors including – Premier League, Universal Pictures, Google, Facebook, LadBible Group, British Fashion Council to name a few. Cecelia also loves to travel, her passion for culture and community underpins her love for travel and building connections. 

Cecelia’s thoughts on the future of travel: We have an opportunity to rethink our strategies & implement change. To focus on sustainability, inclusivity and the local economy; reassuring travellers that we are not going back to how things were – we are better & will do better.

Eulanda Shead Osagiede
Co-Founder: Hey Dip Your Toes In

Award-winning content creator, influencer, and DEI marketing consultant, Eulanda Shead Osagiede has over 18 years of experience working in the education, travel and media sectors. Her roles have ranged from journalist, brand marketing consultant, to workshop facilitator–working with brands like Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Choose Chicago, Uncle Ben’s, and others. Eulanda has been featured in a number of high-profile publications like Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, ESSENCE, and Forbes. As a highly skilled orator, she’s spoken on and promoted DEI on the stages of events for brands like Lonely Planet, Facebook, TEDx, Avian, GFTC, BAME Women in Travel CIC, WTM London, Eco-Hotel Summit, She’s Wanderful, and more.

Eulanda’s thoughts on the future of travel: The future of travel will usher in one of the most diverse industries in the world–led by female, BIPOC, disabled, and LGBTQ stakeholders, allies, and change-makers. Although the paradigms of travel’s colonial past will be remembered, the industry’s shift to producing a more equitable and responsive future will usher in the change many of us seek.

Ursula Petula Barzey
Founder: Moxee Marketing and Caribbean & Co.

Ursula Petula Barzey is the founder of Moxee Marketing, a London based digital marketing agency which works with leading travel and lifestyle brands across the UK, Europe and the Caribbean.  She is also the founder of the award-winning digital platform and blog Caribbean & Co. Established in 2014, Caribbean & Co. has won five travel media awards!  Ursula is also a Board Member and Research Committee Chair of the Black Travel Alliance which advocates for meaningful representation of Black voices across the travel industry.

Ursula’s thoughts on the future of travel: Tourism will bounce back stronger, but travellers will initially take fewer but longer trips.  They will be more conscientious and seek out authentic experiences connecting with locals.   

Laverne Walker
Managing Director: Sackville Travel

With over 20 years experience in the travel industry, Laverne Walker is the Managing Director of Sackville Travel a tour operator servicing the African Caribbean Diaspora for the past 40 years. Laverne works tirelessly to build relationships between destinations and suppliers, develop the corporate strategy and the company’s long term vision which has gained Sackville Travel recognition as a positive force within the Caribbean market coupled with the ability to grow passenger demands and increase airline revenue despite adverse market conditions. Laverne is driven by her passion for the Caribbean’s cultural heritage and she sees tourism as a means to preserve and showcase the rich heritage of the region.

Laverne’s thoughts on the future of travel: In the short term Travel looks particularly difficult with ever changing regulations and restrictions. I am hopeful that the industry will return to a post COVID level once we are able to restore consumer confidence, measure to test at airport are put in place or a vaccine is developed.

Shivani Ashoka
Journalist, travel writer,
co-founder: Unpacking Media Bias

Shivani Ashoka is a travel writer and diversity advocate, based between London and New York City. Shivani has worked in hospitality for over fifteen years and travels the world to report for Conde Nast Traveler, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Tatler and many more. While currently in London, she has lived in five countries on three continents and maintains a special interest in global social impact, community-led sustainability and racial diversity. She is the co-founder of fortnightly newsletter, ‘Unpacking Media Bias’, which helps journalists and marketeers tackle unconscious bias in all forms of the press.

Shivani’s thoughts on the future of travel: This year has been one hell of a wake-up call. We’ve been forced to re-educate ourselves and regenerate the travel sector from the ground up, into a sustainable model that’s diverse, inclusive and reflective of society. And, honestly? It’s about time.

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.