Dr. Gaynelle Henderson is president of Henderson Associates and Henderson Travel Services. Dr. Henderson's career path was cut out for her during her childhood when her parents, Jake and Freddye Henderson launched what became the first full-service, fully appointed African American -owned and
operated travel agency in the U.S. in 1955. Their goal for Henderson Travel Services(HTS) was to expose African American travelers to the freedom abroad that they could not enjoy at home during that time, and to introduce them to the people, cultures and places of the world, especially Africa.
Gaynelle’s parent’s company was the first agency to pioneer travel to Africa:
They sent their first group of American tourists to Ghana in 1957 to witness and participate in the independence celebration of The United Republic of Ghana, the first African country to gain its independence. This trip was very significant for African Americans to experience because the Civil Rights Act was not in place, and thereby black freedoms were not the order of the day. “Education through Exposure” became the Henderson’s motto, and cultural tours to Africa became their specialty.
Over the next 50 years, the couple would build a successful, family owned business with Freddye at the helm and husband, Jake, with his business skills behind the scenes. The couple not only pioneered tourism to Africa — West, East, South and North Africa, but also led tours throughout the world. They even escorted and arranged international travel Oslo, Norway for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his delegation to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. They were also among those select few invited on the inaugural flight to China, hosted by Premier Chou En Lai when China first opened its doors to world tourism in 1972.
Since 1957, Henderson Travel has literally sent hundreds of thousands of tourists to Africa inclusive of Dr. Henderson taking up the Henderson Travel Service mantle in 1984. Even though she held various organizational leadership positions including a professorship at Howard University, Dr. Henderson eventually returned to her roots when she launched Washington, D.C. based Henderson Travel Services where she has continued her parent’s tradition of African travel tours.
Today her company is a full service, fully computerized, state-of-the-art travel and tour company and a tourism development consulting firm that operates under the name of Henderson Associates. Comprised of a team of dedicated employees, associates and technical advisors, Henderson Associates/ Henderson Travel Services is uniquely qualified to provide the full range of travel, tour services, tourism development consulting, and a full array of conference and special event planning and management services.
With her parents’ tourism legacy in her bloodline, Dr. Henderson can be looked at as an “aristocrat” in Africana tourism. She has enjoyed a stellar career in tourism where she has received numerous awards, and has served on various tourism boards including the African Travel Association for many years. She was the inaugural executive director and host of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference (ADHT) where she worked with the Ministry of Tourism of Bermuda in implementing, developing and promoting the ADHT conferences. As a director and organizer, she helped to bring together the most noted panels of educators, historians, culture experts, high ranking government and tourism officials and even some celebrities for the ADHT conferences over the years.
In addition to Henderson Associates/ Henderson Travel, Dr. Henderson continues to contribute to the field of African and
African Diaspora Tourism through her work and associations with experts and tourism officials in the industry. For more
information, visit HendersonTravel.com.