A Comparative Analysis of the Travel Behavior of Black and White Travelers
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African Americans represent more than $400 billion in purchasing power while comprising slightly over 12.5% of the U.S. population (Whigham-Desir,1996). As the largest non-white group in the U.S., African Americans continue to grow into a substantial force in the marketplace. More specifically, Blacks consume a diverse range of products and services. The results of a "Target Market News-The Buying Power of Black America" survey (1996) showed that blacks spent $1.8 billion dollars on entertainment and leisure and $4.2 billion in travel and lodging. According to Mroun and Whigham-Desir (1997), Blacks have an estimated $25 billion in travel spending power and as a result, are gaining the attention of the $440 billion U.S. travel industry.
Research investigating the social conditions of marginality (lower income status, lower educational level, lower occupational status and segregated residence) in influencing travel behavior is sparse to none. Little focus has been placed on this relationship and how it affects travel behavior.
The purpose of this study was to examine whether or not differences exist between black and white travelers with respect to travel behavior. More specifically, this study investigated whether the marginality predictors, income, education, occupation and residence contributed to differences between black and white travelers in the type of trips selected, length of stay and activities participated in during leisure travel, and whether these differences (if any) persist when controlled for race. The data were collected through telephone interviews with members of a sample of residents in the six southeastern states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Only those respondents who reported taking a leisure trip at least two nights away from home during the past year and those respondents who identified themselves as black or white were considered to participate in this study. A total of 500 surveys were completed of whom 225(45%) were black and 275 (55%) were white. Data were analyzed by involving three types of data analysis. Significant differences between the samples were identified using chi-square or difference of means tests. The effects of culture and of selected variables were assessed through log-linear modeling and analysis of variance.
All of the hypotheses for this study were tested and partially confirmed. While important similarities existed among black and white travelers, findings of the study suggested that blacks and whites do significantly differ in terms of length of stay and income and occupation; type of trip and income, occupation and residence; activities and income, education, occupation and residence; and race and type of trip and race and activities. Tests of the effects of race as opposed to marginality predictors upon travel variables identified race as a predictor of leisure travel and the socio-economic covariates as significant predictors in some instances.
Findings of the research suggest implications associated with the developing of effective marketing strategies targeted to the African American population and their estimated $25 billion in travel spending power.
- Doctoral Dissertations