Travel Portland

Travel Portland Response to Black Travel Alliance

The Black Travel Alliance has started an important discussion about Black representation in the travel industry. We at Travel Portland believe that Black Lives Matter and also that Black voices have been unjustly underrepresented in our industry. We don’t have the metrics to answer every question posed by the Alliance, but we know that if we did, it would be clear we must do more.

Our best effort to respond to the Alliance’s request follows. These are the most accurate representations we can provide from internal audits based on the metrics we monitor. We also have included context on scopes of work with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals that were not tied to specific demographics beyond people of color. We value having the opportunity to support our local community through event support, scholarships and a commitment to purchasing goods and services from minority business owners.


Current number and percentage of Black people in management and on staff.

Travel Portland’s staff of 39 includes three Black employees, one of whom is on the executive team:

  • Executive Management: 1 of 5 (20%)
  • Other Staff: 2 of 34 (5.8%)
  • Board of Directors: 4 of 29 (13.8%)

Including all Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), the breakdown is as follows:

  • Staff: 8 of 39 (20.5%)
  • Board of Directors: 8 of 28 (28.6%)

In fiscal year 2019-20, 55% of the dollars we spent to advertise the recruitment of staff for open positions was spent with Black-owned publications/platforms.

As a Black destination industry leader, Chief Sales Officer James Jessie is a cosigner on an open letter on racism in the travel industry. We support and applaud James’ commitment to create a path for our industry to have conversations about driving real change moving forward. The weight of the work, however, cannot be put only on these Black leaders, so we seek to support the actionable priorities they share and to make space for their stories and voices to be heard more frequently and with consistency.

Conferences & Tradeshows

Black representation (number and percentage) on speaker panels, workshops, sessions, etc. in 2019.

  • At the 2019 Travel Portland Marketing Conference, 5 of the 20 speakers (25%) were Black.
  • Travel Portland, in partnership with other city agencies and organizations with the mission of elevating entrepreneurs of color, collaborated on the creation of My People’s Market — a tradeshow highlighting BIPOC business owners and connecting them with the local hospitality industry and consumers. More than 23,000 people attended the five My People’s Market events hosted since 2017. The most recent event in November 2019 featured more than 100 local BIPOC vendors, generating more than $56,000 in sales. Partner agencies include: Travel Portland, Mercatus and Prosper Portland, and local organization Young, Gifted and Brown (Y.G.B.) curating the event’s live entertainment.

Paid Advertising/ Marketing Campaigns

Black representation (number and percentage) in TV, radio, print and digital channels including social media in 2019.

For our Winter 2019 advertising campaign:

  • 14.5% of our digital video advertising spend was specifically directed toward Black consumers. Additionally, 16.1% targeted Latinx consumers.
  • 10.2% of our custom content advertising spend was specifically directed toward Black consumers. Additionally, 10.9% targeted Latinx consumers.

For (we currently track data for POC, not specifically for Black subjects/writers):

  • 50.6% of stories were about people and/or communities of color.
  • 53% of stories were written by people of color.

For our social media channels — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (we currently track data for POC, not specifically for Black subjects):

  • 479 social media posts featured POC businesses, events or imagery.
  • These posts generated 169,865 engagements. 

Portland Visitor’s Guide Magazine (data specific to Black subjects/writers is included where available):

  • 2 of the 8 stories about people are about Black people (25%).
  • 21 of the 61 photos of people feature Black people (34%).
  • 11 of 21 contributing writers and artists are people of color (52%).

Travel Portland is intentional in featuring people of color in our editorial content at a rate that exceeds the city’s population of BIPOC (30.5% per the U.S. Census Bureau). We do so to actively counter popular assumptions about Portland that effectively erase the thousands of non-white Portlanders who contribute to our city’s economy and culture, and to elevate the previously underrepresented stories of Portland’s BIPOC. Sharing these stories increases the chance that visitors will be inspired to engage and spend money with Portland’s diverse communities.


Black representation (number and percentage) on media/press trips in 2019.

Travel Portland has never asked nor recorded racial demographics in relation to media hosting and we do not make assumptions on or record racial identity of visiting journalists. After reviewing travel content creators who visited on fully hosted visits, we determined that, at the least:

  • In 2019, 16 travel content creators were BIPOC and 4 were Black.
  • In 2020, 7 travel content creators were BIPOC and 3 were Black.

Philanthropy & Spending

Charitable contributions and support (i.e. mentorship and intern programs, etc.) to Black charities and community groups.

For 2019:

  • Black charitable contributions – $19,710
  • Black education support/scholarship – $3,000. Of four minority scholarships we fund annually, one is awarded in partnership with a local Black community organization.
  • Black cultural and local event support and grants – $112,000
  • Total – $134,710, which represents 41.3% of our total sponsorship contribution.

In addition, we track spending with registered MBE/DBE/WBE businesses. We do not currently break it down to more specific categories, but will consider this as we evaluate prioritization of metrics. In the first three quarters of fiscal year 2019-20, we spent $1,082,857 with MBE/DBE/WBE businesses. 

We look forward to being part of the larger conversation about how our industry can do better. Travel Portland is firmly committed to working toward substantive change for Black people and we will continue to strive to do better and be transparent about our organizational efforts.