Multicultural tourism is a little...different

The African-American and Hispanic markets are among the fastest growing segments of the US tourism industry. Yet there is still talk that these markets don't like to travel.

The African-American and Hispanic markets are among the fastest growing segments of the US tourism industry. Yet there is still talk that these markets don't like to travel.

While the general market has been stable for the past few years, African-American and Hispanic traveling behaviors have steadily been on the rise.

Thirty percent of the African-American population and 31 percent of Hispanics earn more than $50,000 annually. Interestingly, Hispanics' trips are more likely to include three or more people from the same household than the general market. Last year, Hispanics were also willing to spend $71 billion in traveling. The numbers are self-explanatory, but what is else is new?

These markets travel differently and understanding that is key.

It's also important to remember that African Americans and Hispanics, like any other ethnic group, want to go somewhere they will be accepted, not merely tolerated. They love leisure and relaxation just like anyone else, but how they travel sets them apart.

African Americans typically travel with their churches, Greek organizations, and families for conferences and reunions. Earlier this month, a fraternal organization with over 150,000 members traveled from all around the country to celebrate its centennial anniversary in Indianapolis — a lucrative market for hotels and airline companies to tap into.

Latino leisure travelers are younger than the average US travelers and are heavily family-oriented. Their trips are planned around their children, visiting theme parks and sporting events. Hispanic families are now spread out across the country, in contrast to past years when they were concentrated mostly in the southwestern US. That means extended families are separated, creating a reliable travel market.

These markets, collectively, have already generated significant revenue in travel that will continue to increase over the next decade. To pass up on tapping into these markets would be like giving money away, because if you won't, then your competitor will.

Kim Hunter is president and CEO of Lagrant Communications.

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