Minorities on the road to becoming majority Growth: As ethnic groups grow from 26 percent of the U.S. population today to an expected 47 percent by 2050, they make up a huge market for the travel industry.

August 18, 1996|By Kristin Jackson | Kristin Jackson,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Wake up and start marketing to minority travelers.

That's the underlying message to the travel industry in a report released Aug. 6 by the Travel Industry Association of America. It examines the travel patterns of the United States' three largest minority groups: African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

However, "minority" is becoming a misnomer (and the report's three groups represent dozens of cultures). "Today, ethnic groups represent 26 percent of the U.S. population. By 2050 they will represent 47 percent," said William Norman, the CEO of the Washington-based association.

For the travel industry, minority travelers are a vast market -- and one to which the industry needs to tailor its services. With the $430 billion travel-and-tourism industry now the second-largest employer in the U.S. (after health care), marketing to such groups could be a powerful engine for economic growth.

Fifty thousand households were surveyed for the 100-page "Minority Traveler Report." The results showed that regardless of ethnicity, U.S. travelers share many traits. Among them:

Pleasure is the most frequent reason for traveling by Americans of all ethnicities, and visiting family and friends is the most common reason for a trip, followed by entertainment.

A majority of American travelers -- 76 percent -- use cars as their main mode of transportation.

The typical trip is by two people and includes at least one overnight stay. Two-thirds to three-quarters of those surveyed took trips in the last year.

Americans of all backgrounds seem to be born shoppers; shopping is a top activity during a trip.

Households of travelers, of whatever heritage, differ from those of nontravelers; they're more likely to have a household head who is older (mid-40s), has finished college, has a higher income, and is married.

But there are important differences in the details of how Americans of different backgrounds travel. Among the report's findings (based on travel in 1994):

African-Americans

More of African-Americans' pleasure trips are to visit family and friends than those of the total traveling population. And African-Americans are half as likely to travel for outdoor recreation (whites sought outdoor recreation most frequently).

Group tours are more popular among African-Americans compared with other groups.

While African-Americans travel on business as much as other groups, they're more likely to attend conventions and seminars and more likely to combine a business trip with some vacation time.

The most popular U.S. destinations were Texas, Georgia and other Southern states as well as Washington and Maryland. Outside the U.S., they were more likely to travel to the Caribbean.

Hispanic Americans

Hispanics are more likely to travel with children than any other group. And Hispanics (and whites) use RVs and tents more than other groups.

Hispanics are more likely to travel on business: 23 percent of trips vs. 21 percent overall.

Hispanics take more trips to California, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico; major foreign destinations are the Caribbean, Mexico and South America.

Asian Americans

and Pacific Islanders

Asian Americans had an above-average use of rental cars -- 8 percent vs. 3 percent.

Virtually all households of Asian-American travelers have at least one credit card (more than any other group). Six out of 10 own a personal computer -- the highest of any group.

compared with all American travelers, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders traveled to California and Nevada significantly more often and spent more per trip -- $678 compared with the average $421. And they traveled to the Far East more than any other group.

For more information on the "Minority Traveler Report," contact the TIA at (202) 408-8422.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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