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22 Million U.S. Adventure Travelers of Color Represent $51 Billion in Annual Revenue

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An estimated 36% of U.S. outbound adventure travelers are people of color, taking 2.5 trips per year on average.

A new report released by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) shows that 36 percent of U.S. outbound adventure travelers identify as a non-white race or ethnicity. Collectively, that’s 22 million travelers of color over the age of 18. 

The Diversity in Adventure Travel Report: U.S. Travelers of Color (sponsored by Flywire and Dominican Republic) shows market size opportunities, activity interests and preferences of travelers segmented by the race or ethnicity they most associate with, including Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other non-white Americans. Findings show that Black adventure travelers from the U.S. spent an estimated $19 billion between 2018 and 2019, while Hispanic Americans spent $16 billion, and Asian Americans $13 billion. The full segment of U.S. adventure travelers of color represent an estimated $51 billion annual market opportunity.  

Answers to a series of questions regarding respondent’s travel behavior demonstrate that spending patterns and capacity among people of color is very similar to adventure travelers who identify as white, with some notable findings. For example, outbound U.S. adventure travelers of color are spending comparable amounts to white adventure travelers from the U.S. overall and taking 2+ trips a year on average, but also spend more in-destination on things like dining, tours, shopping, entertainment and transportation. 

U.S. adventure travelers of color are willing to try new activities, indicating the preference to participate in more than one or two when the occasion arises. In addition, 29% of U.S. adventure travelers of color say they traveled on a group package tour on their last trip. The large majority of respondents participated in soft-adventure activities (with hiking and camping at the top), while more than half (51%) of Black Americans in the sample participated in a hard adventure activity such as mountain biking, climbing, kayaking, rafting, or scuba diving. 

Qualified respondents to the survey of likely travelers had to have taken at least one international adventure leisure trip in the previous 24 months and intended to take another adventure leisure trip in the coming 24 months. Data was collected in the summer of 2019 to size the U.S. outbound adventure leisure market for the Dominican Republic Tourism Board, a sponsor of the survey. 

The purpose of the report is to help the global adventure travel industry begin to better understand what U.S. travelers of color are looking for and how to reach them while planning for tourism recovery. In addition to the data gathered for the report, multiple travel experts identifying with the races and ethnicities represented were engaged to provide specific insights into the findings and offer recommendations for adventure travel industry leaders and organizations in terms of marketing, product development, and organizational structures.

“The consequence of doing a poor job of engagement with this community is making a brand damaging mistake,” says James Edward Mills, a journalist, author and key contributor to the report findings. “In the current ‘cancel culture climate’ many organizations would rather do nothing at all than risk, despite their best efforts, the prospects of doing something horribly wrong or offensive. The reality is the world is changing. If we fail to address the needs of these new customers, adventure travel destinations and the industry as a whole could become culturally irrelevant.”

“For too long the travel industry has not spent time or money on meaningful quantitative and qualitative research on travelers of color, including adventure travel. The findings clearly show what a miss this has been in terms of economic opportunity, and highlights why representation matters in all facets of our businesses,” said ATTA CEO Shannon Stowell. “We’re excited about the power of this data and the expert insights to show how important it is that the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and our industry work for better representation of the diversity of people in the world in which we live.”

The 56-page Diversity in Adventure Travel: U.S. Travelers of Color report is free and available for download, courtesy of sponsors Flywire and Dominican Republic.

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