The second phase of the report revealed that Black travelers—particularly those in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. and Ireland—pay close attention to how the travel industry approaches diversity, influencing their travel decisions. Plus, in the U.S., 54% of Black travelers were more likely to visit a destination if they saw Black representation in its advertising.
Another highly influential factor in travel decisions among Black travelers is whether a destination is perceived as safe for them. Seventy-one percent of U.S. and Canadian survey respondents indicated that safety was extremely or very influential in their travel choices.
“America’s history of slavery followed by repressive Jim Crow laws, segregation, institutional racism and continuing police brutality has made U.S. Black travelers cautious,” says Ursula Petula Barzey, research committee chair for Black Travel Alliance. Barzey says this explains the importance of Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide that listed establishments nationwide that served Black patrons. That book was published from 1936 to 1966, but even today, concerns persist. This is one reason Black travelers join online communities such as NOMADNESS, a group of more than 25,000 Black and brown travelers.
Some travelers want to explore their history or learn more about the country’s civil rights journey. Deborah Douglas, a journalism professor, wrote Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events That Made the Movement to document the story of Black America’s quest for equality and justice. She says the book could also serve as a roadmap to activism. (AAA also conducts a tour along the Civil Rights Trail.)
“In my experience, Black narratives and Black spaces are not automatically curated for cultural tourism or for cultural exploration,” she told The Washington Post last year.
Douglas’ book includes spots like the Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as recommendations on where to dine, shop or find entertainment. Many of her suggestions are Black-owned businesses.
In 2018, a number of state tourism boards, from Wilmington, Delaware, to Topeka, Kansas, compiled the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, a website allowing visitors to explore the destinations important to the civil rights movement, as well as plan their journey to cities along the trail. Destinations include lesser-known cities instrumental in the movement, too, such as Farmville, Virginia, and Greensboro, North Carolina, where students led walkouts and sit-ins.