GONYC2021 BEEF WITH THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
Fellow New Yorkers,
We are here today to prevent tourism injustices from happening again. We are here today to put a stop to discrimination, biases and hatred. We are here today to unite our voices against those who seek to withhold us from the progress we've worked so hard for. We are here today to reclaim our birth right. I would like to begin by telling you a story.
My story, which is one I am sure many of you can relate to. With great effort and sacrifices, in 2008 I created a wine tour company in Sacramento, California, which I named Sacramento Wine & Nightlife Tours.
We provided customized wine tours to all nine surrounding wine appellations for any of the 10 million visitors that Sacramento receives every year. In order to attract more customers, especially those visiting the city for conventions, which were the main target of my business plan, I decided to join the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau. The agreement was simple: I pay my membership fee and they recommend my wine tour company to visitors. I kept my end of the deal.
They didn't. And they didn't for more than four years.
One day, I received a call from the executive director of the American Wine Society, who stated that they were not happy with the tour company the SCVB recommended to them for their upcoming convention. My answer was, "Why didn't you pick my wine tour company among the options?" Her answer left me perplexed. She said that the SCVB never recommended my wine tour company and only found out about us when random winery owners started mentioning my business. Whether they saw my company as a threat to their good ol' boys network (because they originally recommended a white-owned tour company) or because they were just racist, the thing is that I paid hundreds of dollars to these people while they were doing nothing to help my business grow. The SCVB did not recommend or refer one client in the four years I was a paying member, even after I had a one on one with Steve Hammond, their Executive Director. I had to pay to stay listed in their visitors guide, but I didn't get any enhanced benefits from doing so. I told the executive director of the American Wine Society that I was ready to work for them whatever they needed. And after a conference call with her board of directors, I got hired. They were hosting 700 of the most distinguished wine connoisseurs in America, and the wine tours were the highlight of the convention. They didn't want to take a chance on amateurs, so they dropped the recommended white-owned company and went with my wine tour company weeks before their arrival. It was a major success: the American wine society convention was a $15K payday! But as soon as the SCVB got this info, racism came into the picture. You know what happened? Yes. The racist Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau blackballed me after I conducted the wine tours for the American Wine Society. I found out the hard way again, white America love blackballs. Apart from a lack of respect to me and my family, this was also disrespectful to those convention groups that decide to visit Sacramento, who clearly deserve to experience a professional wine tour, not one handpicked by the SCVB.
My company was also targeted by the Sacramento sheriff department. It seems police brutality against our community can also be done by co