Whether it’s for leisure or professional travel, Black Americans are an increasingly pivotal factor in the overall travel market, a new study from MMGY Global says.

The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities” found that Black US leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on leisure travel in 2019, accounting for 12.5 percent of total US leisure travel spending.

Those numbers were the result of 458.2 million Black US traveler stays, representing 13.1 percent of the market. On average, Black leisure travelers took three overnight vacations, with a stay of 2.5 nights (at an average cost of $600 per night) for each vacation.

When it comes to professional travel, Black travelers are also a force to be reckoned with. A survey of 200 members of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals showed that meeting professionals plan an average of 7.5 meetings per year, typically spending an average of over $900,000 annually. More than half of those surveyed (57 percent) also said they typically plan off-site events for meeting attendees – adding to the positive economic impact for local communities.

However, the meeting professionals surveyed said they continue to encounter roadblocks when organizing events for Black groups. A large majority (84 percent) said some destinations are less welcoming of meetings with a majority of Black attendees, with 42 percent adding that their attendees have felt unwelcome in a destination in which they’ve attended a meeting.

When scouting out possible meeting locations, word-of-mouth was named the top source of information. Another top consideration: a destination’s “transparent commitment to diversity.” More than three quarters (77 percent) of respondents said they look for diverse representation in the destination’s marketing materials as a key indicator of receptivity, with 80 percent analyzing the diversity of the destination’s racial composition.

“These findings of the US 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,” said Black Travel Alliance President Martinique Lewis.

The study was created by MMGY Travel Intelligence on behalf of Black traveler advocacy organizations to identify the needs, behaviors and sentiments of the Black travel community. 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.

For more information, or to purchase the study, click here.