How Black Travelers Are Driving Tourism

January 12, 2023
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Black travelers have emerged this decade as a powerful and influential leisure travel segment. Travel advisors say their Black clientele is increasingly motivated and empowered to seek (and purchase) premium travel itineraries in 2023 that explore multiple destinations and travel modes.

“Over the years, we have seen an uptick in the number of African Americans wanting to travel,” said Felecia Fencl, CEO of First Choice Travel Group.

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Recent research backs Fencl’s assertion. African American travelers in 2018 contributed $63 billion to U. S. travel and tourism according to a Mandala Research study, up from $48 billion in 2010.

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Black travelers also spent $109.4 billion on travel in pre-pandemic 2019, according to MMGY Global’s Shifflet Travel Performance/Monitor survey.

African American “cultural” travelers, chiefly interested in exploring Black history and traditions, spend more compared with other Black travelers, the Mandala survey found. These travelers spend $2,078 per trip versus $1,345 for all African American travelers.

Not coincidentally Fencl, who markets her successful agency on Instagram under the name @mahoganytravels, said her clients are visiting destinations and experiences tied to their Black American and African heritage and culture.

“In 2023, our African American travelers are seeking out more culturally inspired destinations,” she said.

Inspired to realize cultural enlightenment and equipped with more freedom to travel since the pandemic’s onset, what destinations are Black travelers planning to encounter in 2023?

TravelPulse interviewed a select group of Black travel advisors to hear what their newly empowered clients are thinking regarding upcoming leisure travel.

Felecia Fencl – CEO, First Choice Travel Group


Felecia Fencl - CEO, First Choice Travel Group

Felecia Fencl – CEO, First Choice Travel Group


TP: How would you describe your African American clients’ 2023 travel plans?

FF: In 2023, our African American travelers are seeking out more culturally inspired destinations. Think Africa; more specifically Ghana and Kenya. We have received lots of requests to visit those destinations.

TP: What do you believe is motivating your Black clients to travel?

FF: When asked what has drawn them to want to visit those countries, the replies are almost always the same. They want to immerse themselves in the experiences that make them feel good about their heritage. They are seeking authentic interactions with the people and the land. Also, there is a desire to add a humanitarian element to their travel experience.

TP: What destinations or types of travel are your African American clients willing to spend luxury-level dollars to experience?

FF: Luxury has become the new black. My affluent African American clients want to up-size their travel plans in 2023. European river cruising tops the list, followed by week-long vacations on the island of Crete; coupled with visits to Seychelles and The Cook Islands.

These destinations offer them the luxury experience they are seeking and willing to pay for. From five-star hotel stays to villas with private pools, they want it all and my agency is ready to curate those experiences for them.

Nadia Sparkle Henry – CEO, Travel With Sparkle

TP: Are your Black clients’ travel plans more or less aggressive versus 2019 (or other pre-pandemic years)?

NS: I think my client’s plans for 2023 are more aggressive than 2019. I see an increase in my clients wanting to venture out to new countries other than traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean.

TP: What destinations or types of travel are your African American clients willing to spend luxury-level dollars to experience?

NS: Dubai, Maldives, and Italy are the three top countries my clients are willing to spend luxury-level dollars to experience. I combine Dubai and the Maldives for many of my clients. Both destinations are on their bucket-list of dream vacations. They are willing to spend top dollar to stay in a five-star luxury hotel in Dubai and an exotic resort in the Maldives with an over-the-water bungalow.

Brenda O’Neale – CEO, With This Ring Romance Travel

TP: How would you describe your African American clients’ 2023 travel plans?

BON: My clients are seeking out unique destinations in the Caribbean as well as Europe and Africa.

TP: What do you believe is motivating your Black clients to travel?

BON: Clients have pent up time and money, so they are eagerly pursuing their bucket-list destinations.

TP: What destinations or types of travel are your African American clients willing to spend luxury-level dollars to experience?

BON: Clients of course are visiting Dubai and the lesser-known Caribbean islands of Anguilla and St. Kitts. Travel to the African nations and Europe are also very popular.

Belvin Baldwin II – CEO, Showtime Travel


Belvin Baldwin

“The pandemic has taught us that time waits for no one and they are making those dream vacations a reality now.” – Belvin Baldwin II, CEO of Showtime Travel. (Courtesy of Belvin Baldwin II)


TP: How would you describe your African American clients’ 2023 travel plans?

BB: My clients are looking for unique luxury travel experiences. They are not only looking for cultural activities but bucket-list items. The pandemic has taught us that time waits for no one and they are making those dream vacations a reality now.

TP: Are your Black clients’ travel plans more or less aggressive versus 2019 (or other pre-pandemic years)?

BB: Definitely more aggressive. They are not waiting to plan a bucket-list vacation. I have clients booking multiple bucket-list vacations in one year.

TP: What destinations or types of travel are your African American clients willing to spend luxury-level dollars to experience?

BB: Dubai, where are so many luxury travel options. In Tanzania you can enjoy a safari, the blue Indian Ocean and African culture in one visit. The Maldives and French Polynesia, where clients still have that overwater bungalow bucket-list item they need to check off the list.

South Africa, which has so many options for food, culture and wine. There’s also Greece, France and Italy; these are still the top options for a European Luxury vacation.



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