black leisure travel

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Black U.S. leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019, generated by 458.2 million U.S. traveler stays, representing 13.1 percent of the U.S. leisure travel market.

This from MMGY Global, which announced today results from the first phase of The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report.

Virginia Tourism Corporation is a sponsor of this study, the only state in the country to invest in this important research.

“Virginia Tourism Corporation is proud to support this critical research that will further efforts to make the travel industry more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. For too long, Black voices have been underrepresented, signifying a systemic problem within the tourism industry. These challenges are felt at every level, from the individual traveler to meeting professionals to business owners. The findings in this report will help to identify solutions and a clear path forward for the travel industry to do better,” said Rita McClenny, president & CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation.

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

“We have long suspected the amount that U.S. Black travelers spend on leisure travel was undervalued. So it is great to get confirmation through these two reports as a part of The Black Traveler study,” said Black Travel Alliance President Martinique Lewis.

“These findings of the U.S. market, as well as additional data from the international report to be published in January, 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.”

Black meeting professionals: Money to spend, not always welcome?

The survey of Black meeting professionals showed equally significant numbers. NCBMP’s meeting professionals plan an average of 7.5 meetings per year and typically spend an average of over $900,000 annually on those meetings.

The average spend per meeting is over $120,000, with 57 percent of planners indicating that they typically plan off-site events for the attendees – translating into further positive economic impact for local communities.

That’s the good news from the report. There is work to be done in terms of the hardships encountered by Black meeting professionals, per the report.

Eighty-four percent of meeting planners indicate that some destinations are more welcoming of meetings with a majority of Black attendees than others, and 42 percent say their attendees have felt unwelcome in a destination in which they’ve attended a meeting in the past.

To this end, it is not surprising that word-of-mouth was indicated as the top source of information when considering host destinations.

Meeting professionals also relied heavily on a destination’s transparent commitment to diversity, with 77 percent looking for representation in the destination’s marketing materials as a key indicator of receptivity and 80 percent analyzing the diverse racial composition of the destination.

“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,” National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals Chairman Jason Dunn said.

The final phase of the report is set to be released in January and will share data from a new survey analyzing the current opinions and attitudes of Black leisure travelers globally. The survey will also delve deeper into the decision-making process for vacation planning and aims to uncover the barriers and experiences that Black leisure travelers encounter across international markets, including the U.S., Canada, UK/Ireland, France and Germany.

“It is vital for travel industry executives to better understand the needs, behaviors and concerns of underrepresented traveler communities. The findings from the report should be a call to action for travel professionals and are an important step in both underscoring the value of Black travelers and identifying solutions to better serve this important travel audience,” said MMGY Global’s CEO, Clayton Reid.

Phase I of The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report is available for purchase at

Those who purchase the report now will also receive phase II of the report when it becomes available in January.