The African American market is one of the top three fastest growing markets in the travel industry, generating annual revenues of more than $40 billion. Ranked as the most stable and resilient market segment, African Americans are three times more likely to travel in groups, and 73% of African American households reportedly travel yearly.
These statistics have not gone unnoticed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, a nonprofit organization with the goal of promoting tourism to the region. Hugh Riley, the CTO’s director of marketing for the Americas, shares his thoughts on the relationship between African American tourists and the $25 billion Caribbean tourism industry.
How does African American business and travel benefit the Caribbean economy?
“There are a growing number of inquiries and a growing amount of business from the African American community. Business meetings, executive groups, associations of one kind or another, and professional organizations find the Caribbean very attractive. There are also so many African Americans that have familial connections with the Caribbean in virtually every Caribbean country. As far as religion, the energy and fervor that the African American community is renowned for works very well with the spirituality of the Caribbean, so there’s ‘religious tourism’ that acts as an incentive for going to the Caribbean. There’re the music and cultural festivals; there’s every kind of entertainment opportunity. There are connections that the Caribbean has with the African American community that are somewhat unique.”
Have negative stereotypes between Caribbean and American blacks inhibited the opportunity for stronger relations between the two groups?
There are stereotypes everywhere—they are broad frameworks by which the world is measured. But I am not so sure we can measure an industry that is as broad based and as successful as the tourism industry based on isolated incidents. Anything that threatens the ideal experience that a visitor might have is something that we should pay attention to and try to fix. The tourism industry is big business, and we appreciate the fact that African Americans are contributors to that business. The African American market is an enormously important one to the Caribbean.