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Black American Travelers Spent $63 Billion On Tourism In 2018

By Sharelle Burt

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It’s a known fact that black people love to travel. We want to get out and explore the world around us just as much as anybody else but exactly how much do we spend while doing so?

A new study by Mandala Research shows that African-Americans spent nearly $63 billion on tourism this year. Surveying close 1,700 African-American travelers, data shows that the number went up almost $20 billion since 2010, from $48 billion. However, we’re not going very far. The top state-bound spots were Florida, New York City, and Atlanta, while the Caribbean held first place for international destinations at 38 percent, followed by Mexico at 26 percent.

The study shows that finally, destination spots are recognizing how vital African-Americans are to the travel industry. “The African American traveler is very important to the tourism market in Miami,” Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau President William Talbert said.

“Arts, culture, and diversity make up the fabric of the community and key findings from this report show obvious alignment with interests of African Americans to the experiences and multicultural points of interest that Miami offers to both the leisure visitor and convention attendee.”

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Research shows there is a difference in the type of black traveler, with categories titled ‘African American travelers’ and ‘African American “cultural” travelers.’ The basic traveler spends close to $1,345 as a tourist while the ‘cultural’ traveler spends much more. People in this category want to get out and explore the locals’ way of life. They spend an average of $2,078 on trips while eating local foods, shopping at the malls and other causal things. For blacks to travel somewhere, taking in the culture is critical. We can’t be bored now, can we? Sixty-four percent of African American travelers pick a spot because of the impact of culture.

With hotels and tour companies recognizing the impact African American travelers have on tourism, some destinations are taking note in their strategies for next year. Bermuda is one of them.

“Given the rapid growth in this market segment, increasing the number of African American travelers to Bermuda is a strategic goal of our recently released National Tourism Plan, Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas said. “We believe our destination has the cultural touchpoints that make African American travelers feel right at home out here.”

Other parts of the study show that there are potential travelers that simply haven’t had a chance to get out yet. Twenty-eight percent said they were too busy, while 25 percent said they couldn’t afford it. Some travelers are hesitant to travel due to racism. Fifteen percent said they have concerns about racial profiling at a destination, which plays a significant role in their travel decisions but experts say there is a way to conquer that fear.

“Historically, Black people have tended to travel in groups for camaraderie and to some extent for protection,” publishers of Black Meetings and Tourism Magazine Gloria and Solomon Herbert said.

“Now with the increased popularity of black travel clubs and networks, African American ‘baby boomers’, with more time and money, are exploring the world in a way they were never able to before. For Millennials of color, travel is being considered somewhat of a rite of passage.”

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Sharelle Burt

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