MMGY: U.S. Black Travelers Influenced by Safety, Representation

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Black travelers—particularly those in the U.S., Canada and the U.K./Ireland—are paying close attention to how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity and have indicated that it has an influence on their travel decision-making. This is according to the results from MMGY Global's second and final phase of “The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities” research report.

Further, how Black people are represented in marketing and advertising collateral also plays a key role, with 54 percent of U.S. Black travelers agreeing that they are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising. In the U.K./Ireland, 42 percent agreed and in Canada 40 percent agreed. There was, however, far less agreement among Black travelers from France (27 percent) and Germany (15 percent).  

Another highly influential factor in the decision-making process is whether the destination is perceived as safe for Black travelers. Seventy-one percent of U.S. and Canadian respondents each felt safety was extremely or very influential to their decision, while 58 percent of U.K./Ireland respondents felt similarly and only 31 percent of French respondents and 21 percent of German respondents felt influenced by this. 

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Ursula Petula Barzey, research committee chair, Black Travel Alliance, said in a press announcement that “it is not surprising that Black representation in advertising and safety highly influence U.S. Black travelers more so than Black travelers from France and Germany” since awareness and discussions about racial issues are more muted in those countries. She added that, due to America’s history of slavery, repressive Jim Crow laws, segregation, institutional racism and police brutality, U.S. Black travelers are cautious about where they travel. “We have an increasing desire for leisure travel and love it when destinations actively market to us but want to make sure that the experience will be a positive one,” Barzey said.

What inspires Black travelers was fairly consistent across all six countries: The leading source of inspiration is the need for relaxation, followed by enthusiasm for visiting someplace new and experiencing different cultures. It is, therefore, no surprise that Black travelers in all six countries indicated that they are most interested in cultural activities when they visit a destination. Other activities of interest include nature and wellness activities, visiting attractions and attending family events.

Phase I of the study revealed the enormous spending power of U.S. Black travelers; they spent $109.4 billion on domestic travel in 2019. When international leisure travel is added to that figure U.S. travelers spent $129.6 billion that same year. This spend is expected to be lower in 2021 as, on average, Black travelers intend to take 18 percent fewer trips this year and also intend to spend more than 50 percent less than what they reported in 2019. 

With that said, three-quarters of the Black travelers surveyed intend to take an overnight leisure trip in 2021. Notably, respondents from the U.K./Ireland are more inclined to take an international overnight trip than any other country (at least two trips), while Americans were more interested in staying closer to home, indicating they’d take at least two domestic overnight trips. 

“The findings of this report, along with the sustained calls by Black travelers for diversity and equality, should be an impetus for the travel industry to make a long-needed change,” said MMGY Global CEO Clayton Reid. “Companies should be prepared to demonstrate their moral and ethical commitment to ensuring Black travelers are given the service and hospitality that they so rightly deserve.”

This study was created by MMGY Travel Intelligence on behalf of Black traveler advocacy organizations to identify the needs, behaviors and sentiment of the Black travel community. In this phase, 3,635 Black leisure travelers from the United States (1,631), Canada (500), France (501), Germany (503) and U.K./ Ireland (500) were surveyed. 

Source: MMGY Global

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