Philly man becomes world traveler to build Black tourism community

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Monday, August 15, 2022
Philly man becomes world traveler to build Black tourism community
Rahiem Johnson created "TrayTableSeatBack" to make once-in-a-lifetime trips accessible to everyday citizens.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Rahiem Johnson grew up in the Logan section of Philadelphia with his mom and stepfather. He was the youngest of eight who lived in a loving household.

"We took a vacation maybe to Virginia Beach every two years," he said. "So, traveling the world is not something I ever thought would be obtainable."

But from that young age, Johnson dreamed of making the impossible possible. He wanted to visit locations he only ever saw on television or in textbooks.

After working 10 years in psychology, he saved enough money to check off a short list of countries he wanted to visit. But he didn't stop there.

"Right now, we're on year number eight and I've seen about 52 countries," he said.

But what Johnson didn't see was a tremendous amount of diversity among tourists.

"When I started to go to these countries, I realized that I didn't see people who look like me," he said. "I wanted to change the narrative, so I started TrayTableSeatBack to be able to expose more Black and brown people to the world."

Johnson's business and travel community was founded four years ago. Since then, he has curated group excursions to 15 countries including over 300 people. Taking regular vacations and facilitating experiences for like-minded guests has become his full-time job.

"About 40 to 50% of our customers come from the inner city of Philadelphia, which makes me feel really, really good," he said.

TrayTableSeatBack just came back from a trip to Tanzania and next week, they will visit Greece. While booking with the service, customers can utilize a payment plan to make the cost more manageable. It's part of Johnson's goal to make international trips more commonplace and accessible to people like him.

"As a Black gay man, I want to make sure that I am exposing Black and brown people to the world but also LGBTQIA plus," he said, "To make sure that we are all seen, we're all heard, and I want to be a voice and amplify those voices."

To learn more about TrayTableSeatBack, visit their website.

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