Cultural heritage major driver of travel for U.S. blacks, survey finds

UNITED STATES A new poll suggests that cultural heritage plays a key role when it comes to destination selection for African-American travelers, with more than one-third “very likely” to take a trip where stories and sites related to Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement are available.

The African American Traveler study, released this week by Washington, D.C.-based Mandala Research, also suggests that a significantly higher percentage of black Americans would visit more national parks if they saw greater diversity among employees and visitors.

The survey reveals three primary segments within the African-American travel market:

  • Curious and engaged—nearly a third of respondents (32%) indicated the availability of African-American history sites and culture is a key factor in trip selection;
  • Family reunion travelers—29% attended a social or family event during their most recent trip;
  • Business travelers—27% had taken one or more business trips in the last 12 months.

Half of the travelers surveyed would be more inclined to visit attractions that offer more exhibits about black history and culture, and that percentage increases to 74% among the “curious and engaged” subset.

About 44% percent of respondents would visit more parks if they saw greater diversity among employees and visitors, a number that increases to 65% amongst the “curious and engaged” subset.

These travelers place a high priority on offering educational experiences for children when traveling, with 46% indicating it is very important for leisure trips to include activities that teach their children about African-American history and culture.

Entertainment magazines are effective mediums for reaching this market, with more than 40% of travelers acknowledging they read Essence. Facebook is another popular outlet for African-Americans, with more than two-thirds indicating they read and post to the social website.

The online study conducted in December queried 1,018 African-American leisure travelers who took at least one trip within the United States in the past 12 months that was at least 50 miles away from home, or where the traveler spent at least one overnight and had shared or sole responsibility for travel planning. The study was underwritten by the U.S. Cultural and Heritage Tourism Marketing Council and Shop America, in partnership with Louisiana Travel, Visit Baltimore, The Museum Store, Hester Group, the Center for Socioeconomic Research and Education at Texas A&M, and the Henry Ford Foundation.