WASHINGTON – Minority groups are hitting the road,seeing the sights and enjoying leisure travel in greater numbers these days,according to a report released Tuesday by the Travel Industry Association of America.
African-Americans,Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans accounted for an estimated $90 billion of the $462 billion spent overall on domestic travel expenditures in 2002,according to the report.
“The intention of this report is to examine the travel habits of members of minority groups so the travel and tourism industry can tailor our products and our marketing efforts to attract these important consumers,” said William S. Norman,president and CEO of the TIA. “As the travel and tourism industry is one of America's largest employers,better marketing means more revenue and that means more jobs.”
In a survey of 300,000 households,the TIA found that 37 percent of Asians,28 percent of Hispanics and 22 percent of blacks had taken a trip in an average month. In all U.S. households,that number was 31 percent.
The most popular destinations were Las Vegas for Hispanic-American and Asian-American travelers and Atlanta for African-Americans.
The largest increase was in travel by Hispanic-Americans,which rose 20 percent in 2002 from 2000. Overall travel grew by 2 percent in the same period.
Some of the growth can be attributed to the 10 percent population rise of Hispanic-Americans,the survey found.
“While half of the increase in Hispanic-American travel reflects rapid population growth,the remaining one-half reflects real growth,” said Suzanne Cook,TIA senior vice president of research and technology.
Domestic travel volume increased by 10 percent for Asian-Americans and 4 percent for African-Americans.
The traveling habits of minorities mirrored the habits of all U.S. travelers in that leisure travel is the most popular form of travel,visiting friends and family the most common reason for travel,personal cars the most common mode of transportation,and the average travel party is two people.
However,the report did cite some differences.
All three minority groups are more likely than all travelers to use a rental car as their primary mode of transportation,and shopping is usually the preferred activity.
For Hispanic-American travelers,spending time with the family is most important. One-third of all trips include three or more people from the same household.
African-Americans travel alone or with someone from outside the family in half of all trips,but they are also more likely to take a group tour than other groups.
Asian-Americans are more likely than any other ethnic group to travel by air,and they are also younger than the U.S. average.
“Asian-American travelers are the most upscale of the three groups we studied,showing much higher levels of education,managerial or professional employment,and significantly higher incomes than U.S. travelers overall,” Cook said.
Some travel agents have also noticed changes in the industry.
“Compared to 10 years ago,even in the advertising,there have been changes” said Flo Coleman,owner of the Washington travel agency New Horizons. “Even in brochures you did not see any ethnic groups but Caucasian. Now they show all age groups … and all ethnic groups.”
Coleman said she has seen a difference in travel.
“I know that more and more ethnic groups are going,” said Coleman,who specializes in booking cruises.
However,some agents see a different reason for the number of minority travelers.
“I think it's the demographics of the area,not necessarily that they are traveling more,” said Shirley Worsham,a travel agent for 33 years,who works at Travel Merchants in Anaheim,Calif.
The survey,performed by TravelScope,polled 25,000 households a month by mail. The margin of error is plus or minus 0.4 percent. The study did not include statistics for cruises,recreational vehicles or camping.