June 22, 2024


It's time to think about Travel.

The Past, Present, and Future of the Nation’s First Black-Owned Travel Agency, Henderson Travel Service


Set up in 1955, the origin tale of Henderson Travel Service—both the initial Black-owned whole-services vacation agency in the U.S. and a pioneer of Black American journey to Africa—is rooted in the willpower and resilience of a person woman: Freddye Henderson. She was intent on exhibiting her fellow Black Us citizens what the environment had to offer them, in spite of the a lot of social ills—rampant racism and sexism, in particular—that sought to keep them out. A lot more than 60 decades after the agency’s landmark first journey to Ghana, held ahead of industrial flights to Africa were even available from the U.S., HTS is even now likely strong—and it is her daughter, Gaynelle, who has held it at the vanguard.

Gaynelle was only eight many years old when her mom founded HTS in Atlanta, but it didn’t acquire lengthy prior to she commenced pulling her excess weight in the family business. Henderson vividly remembers her preteen yrs, when she and her more mature siblings would expend weekends in the office, filling out airline tickets by hand, though their mom worked on journey arranging and their father taken care of the accounting. At 16, Gaynelle started out guiding group tours on her personal and ongoing doing so through her university years. It was a purpose she beloved, but soon after graduation, Henderson decided to forge her individual path.

Gaynelle Henderson’s mother and father, Freddye and Jacob, pose in entrance of Henderson Journey Service’s Atlanta headquarters in the early 1960s.

Gaynelle Henderson

“I recall consciously not wanting to be in the enterprise,” she claims. “For the longest time, I just required to do my possess detail and was not specifically fascinated in returning household.”

When Henderson’s job took her to Washington, D.C., nonetheless, she realized the internationally various city was the perfect market for an extension of HTS. She took money from her very own financial savings, rented out a one-area business, and in 1984, Henderson Journey Assistance of Washington, D.C., was born, running along with the Atlanta flagship.

Her timing, as it turned out, was perfect. In 1989, Henderson’s then-elderly mom and dad were being all set to shut down their Atlanta operations, leaving Henderson to consider in excess of their clients and go on the HTS manufacturer. Leaning on her prior knowledge in administration consulting, Henderson took the business enterprise a phase further than her mother and father by growing its offerings to incorporate journey contracts for the U.S. authorities. For 20 years, Henderson managed two HTS divisions servicing govt contracts, which introduced in quite a few million pounds on its own, as effectively as leisure travelers.

“That diversification contributed considerably to the longevity of HTS,” Henderson says. “There was no way we could have survived as a small vacation agency by way of the finish of commissions from airlines, the internet, folks acquiring their possess tickets, and ultimately even remaining ready to e-book their have tours on-line. It would’ve been challenging for us to endure at the stage that we did.”


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