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Industry Briefs

It is with much sadness that I must report that Matthew Thomas, our dear friend and longtime supporter of and contributor to Black Meetings & Tourism, has met an untimely death.

Matthew Thomas

We first met Matt about 25 years go at a CTO event we were attending in the Caribbean.  He was running an incentive house at the time, the only African-American that could make such a claim.   He was youthful, energetic and a creative powerhouse, and he and I and Gloria connected immediately.   We quickly became lifelong friends and in no time he was like family.

Before much time had passed, he became our M.I.C.E. editor, and over the years has contributed many articles and columns to our publication.  Even more importantly he was a staunch advocate for diversity, inclusion and parity in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, which has been BM&T's mission since we began this journey over 30 years ago.   There was no stronger voice for these principles that support and uplift our community than Matt's.

Living in the Oakland, CA area, Matt was an activist who was heavily involved in the local Black Chamber of Commerce leadership.  He was never afraid to speak up if he saw injustice being committed against someone from our community, or whenever he witnessed the unfair treatment of small Black-owned   businesses in particular.

Some time ago Matt relocated to Atlanta, GA and continued his community activism here.  He went to work with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the same organization that once was the platform for Martin Luther King, Jr.    At the time of his death he was exploring the possibility of using his position at SCLC to mount an initiative to confront destination marketing organizations for their lack of diversity in both their hiring practices and use of vendors.   Having been   associated with Black Meetings & Tourism for so ;long, he was especially troubled that less than 4% of DMOs advertise with any Black-owned media.

In addition to his work with SCLC and his contributions to BM&T, Matt also set up residency in San Juan, PR, splitting his time there with the time he spent in Atlanta.  While in Puerto Rico he established a tour company that took groups visiting the island to see all of the local attractions and points of interest.   He had, to put it bluntly, a brilliant business mind and a deep commitment to the betterment of our community.

It is our understanding that Matt had just moved into new living quarters in Atlanta, and that there was a gas leak that caused his demise.  I am unable to confirm this for certain, but if this is the case thank God he went peacefully in his sleep without any pain or violence.

Gloria and I will sorely miss Matt, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends who love him like we do.  Rest in Peace dear brother and know that your time here was well spent, and that your work and dedication positively impacted many lives, including ours.

Meet Brilliantly