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Ethnic travel is vital to American tourism.

A new report, sponsored by the Travel Industry Association of America, has confirmed that minority travel is key to the growth and future of the industry. "Today, ethnic groups represent 26% of the U.S. population," says TIA president and CEO William S. Norman. "By 2050, they will represent 47%. The intention of this report was to examine the travel habits of minority groups so we can tailor our products and marketing efforts to attract them," he adds.

The report, The Minority Traveler, found broad similarities in travel patterns, regardless of ethnicity. The differences, however, lie in the details.

Despite conventional thinking, African Americans, along with Hispanic Americans, were likely to travel for business more than other travelers - 23% vs. 21%. Group tours are most popular among African Americans. As for business travel, African Americans are more likely to travel to seminars and conventions than all other groups (7% vs. 4%), and to combine business and pleasure, adding on a few vacation days to a business trip.

This is the reason that ClubExcel in Miami now sponsors an annual trade mission/travel cruise to help minority business identify new markets and generate business opportunities in the Caribbean. "It's a great way to get business for my security company while taking a well deserved vacation," says Johnnie Tomlin, president of T/A Security Services Inc. in Miami. (For more on ClubExcel's 1997 trade mission cruise - which sails from August 10-17 - contact 305-573-3192 or 800-330-3192.)

Like most Americans (68%), African Americans are most likely to travel for pleasure (64%) and visit family and friends (41%). They're also just as likely as other Americans to have the kids in tow (21%). But while on vacation, black travelers are more likely than other Americans to take group tours (10% vs. 4%).On average, African Americans stayed 3.1 nights on their most recent trip, compared with a national average of 3.4 nights, most often staying in hotels, motels or bed-and-breakfast lodges (45% vs. 42%). About 32% of black travelers staved at private homes, slightly under the total of 34% for all Americans.

Although Asian Americans spend the most of any group when they travel ($678 per trip vs. $405 by African Americans), shopping was the favorite activity among black travelers (40%), the most of any ethnic group, the survey found. Visiting historical places and museums ranked second (17%). African Americans outranked all other Americans in visiting historical places and museums (17% vs. 16%) when on a trip, as well as outranking all others in attending cultural events and festivals (15% vs. 10%).

"My guess is that we are more tribal as a race of people than we care to suspect or admit," says Caletha M. Powell, president of the New Orleans-based African American Travel and Tourism Association Inc. "It never surprises me," she continues, "when surveys show that we tend to travel in groups. You must remember, there was a time not long ago when it was dangerous for African Americans to travel alone. Practice does make perfect."

Not that African Americans are all work and no play: they outpace all Americans when it comes to nightlife and dancing (13% vs. 8%). On the chancy side, 11% of Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans go gambling when they travel versus 7% of other Americans.

Compared with the average African American, the typical black traveler is older (46 years old on average), well educated (74% have attended college and 43% are graduates), married (51%) and more affluent have a median household income of $34,400).
COPYRIGHT 1996 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:African American travelers
Author:Whigham-Desir, Marjorie
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Dec 1, 1996
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