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Black US leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019

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Black US leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019
Black US leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019
Written by Harry S. Johnson

The results from the first phase of The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report were announced today. The study was created on behalf of Black traveler advocacy organizations to identify the needs, behaviors and sentiment of the Black travel community. It analyzes findings from the 2019 Shifflet TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitor, which surveyed 4,800 Black leisure travelers within the United States, and a 2020 survey of 200 members of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP). 

The Black Traveler report shares that Black U.S. leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019 – the most recent year reflecting normal travel spend prior to COVID-19. This spend was generated by 458.2 million Black U.S. traveler stays, which represents 13.1% of the U.S. leisure travel market. The report also found that in 2019 Black leisure travelers took an average of three overnight vacations and spent an average of 13.1 nights in paid accommodations. U.S. Black travel parties spent an average of $600 on each overnight leisure stay, with an average stay of 2.5 nights for each trip.

“We have long suspected the amount that U.S. Black travelers spend on leisure travel was undervalued. So it is great to get confirmation through these two reports as a part of The Black Traveler study,” said Black Travel Alliance President Martinique Lewis. “These findings of the U.S. market, as well as additional data from the international report to be published in January, will become our calling card to destination management organizations and travel brands as we work to increase Black representation at all levels of the travel industry.”

The survey of Black meeting professionals showed equally significant numbers, greatly reinforcing the value of Black people in all facets of travel. NCBMP’s meeting professionals plan an average of 7.5 meetings per year and typically spend an average of over $900,000 annually on those meetings. The average spend per meeting is over $120,000, with 57% of planners indicating that they typically plan off-site events for the attendees – translating into further positive economic impact for local communities.

Regardless of this large spend, Black meeting professionals continue to encounter hardships when organizing events for Black groups. Eighty-four percent of meeting planners indicate that some destinations are more welcoming of meetings with a majority of Black attendees than others, and  42% say their attendees have felt unwelcome in a destination in which they’ve attended a meeting in the past. To this end, it is not surprising that word-of-mouth was indicated as the top source of information when considering host destinations. Meeting professionals also relied heavily on a destination’s transparent commitment to diversity, with 77% looking for representation in the destination’s marketing materials as a key indicator of receptivity and 80% analyzing the diverse racial composition of the destination. 

“The results of this report are emotional for many of us and validate that the Black meetings and tourism industry matters. To all of those who have fought to warm  cold hearts to our community’s importance or cried in the middle of night after your work was overlooked, this report says, WE SEE YOU and WE HEAR YOU,” said National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals Chairman, Jason Dunn.

The final phase of the report is set to be released in January 2021 and will share data from a new survey analyzing the current opinions and attitudes of Black leisure travelers globally. The survey will also delve deeper into the decision-making process for vacation planning and aims to uncover the barriers and experiences that Black leisure travelers encounter across international markets, including the U.S., Canada, UK/Ireland, France and Germany. 

“It is vital for travel industry executives to better understand the needs, behaviors and concerns of underrepresented traveler communities. The findings from the report should be a call to action for travel professionals and are an important step in both underscoring the value of Black travelers and identifying solutions to better serve this important travel audience,” said MMGY Global’s CEO, Clayton Reid. 

To ensure The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report appropriately documented the true sentiment of the Black traveler, survey questions were developed with oversight and input from a steering committee of diverse industry experts and through partnerships with travel advocacy organizations, including the Black Travel Alliance (BTA), the NCBMP and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD). In a further commitment to advocacy, MMGY Global and its supporting sponsors, including Choice Hotels International®, Tripadvisor and Virginia Tourism Corporation, have pledged that all net proceeds will be donated back to the three partner organizations – BTA, NABHOOD and NCBMP – as well as several other not-for-profit groups.

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