The spending power of US Black leisure travelers has been revealed in a new study. Created by MMGY Global and Black advocacy groups, the study found that Black leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019, accounting for more than 13% of the US leisure travel and tourism market.

The first study in MMGY Travel's The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report was released earlier this month, highlighting the contribution Black leisure travelers make to the US travel and tourism economy to the tune of $109.3 billion in 2019. This sum was generated by 458.2 million US Black travelers last year. The survey polled 48,000 US Black travelers, and 200 members of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP).

"We have long suspected the amount that U.S. Black travelers spend on leisure travel was undervalued," said Martinique Lewis, president of the Black Travel Alliance, and one of the study's main partners. "These findings of the US market 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."

African American female traveler
US black leisure travelers account for 13.1% of the US travel and tourism economy ©Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

The report's initial phase also found that Black US leisure travelers took an average of three overnight vacations and spent an average of 13.1 nights in paid accommodations in 2019. Black travel parties spent an average of $600 on each overnight leisure stay, with an average stay of 2.5 nights for each trip.

When it comes to Black meeting professionals, the study found that NCBMP's members plan an average of 7.5 meetings per year and typically spend just over $900,000 annually on those meetings, which is broken down to about $120,000 per meeting. 

Shining a light on the discrimination Black professionals face, 84% of meeting planners indicated 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. As a result, meeting professionals rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations for destinations, and their commitment to diversity.

Pensive senior male entrepreneur looking out window
The report also looked at meeting and event travel ©Hero Images/Getty Images

"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 NCBMP chairman, Jason Dunn.

The report's final phase will be released in January 2021 and will look at the vacation-planning process and experiences that Black leisure travelers encounter across a variety of international markets.

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