Keywords: ethnic minority, access, tourism participation, racial discrimination, European destinations, primary research, racism
The topic of this conference paper explores the issues associated with the barriers in tourism participation as a result of racial discrimination against ethnic minority groups whilst travelling across European destinations. In particular, those mostly affected and have been closely looked at are individuals from black African and Muslim backgrounds. Cole and Morgan (2010: 16) explain that for the majority of people, a holiday is considered to be an integral part of their lives. But there are some groups who are excluded from the participation in tourism due to socio-economic disadvantages. Racism constitutes prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination against those who are considered to be â€˜outsidersâ€™ in society, and they are subject to marginalisation out of fear and lack of education. Racial discrimination negatively impacts the minority groups, as it would prevent them from visiting particular countries and travelling for leisure considerably. Through racialized representations, individuals are reduced to certain traits. For example, white people are perceived as â€˜normalâ€™ and â€˜acceptableâ€™, whereas non-white groups are viewed as â€˜deviantâ€™ and â€˜unacceptableâ€™. It is mentioned that majority groups have â€˜white privilegeâ€™ which enables them the freedom of movement, and the ability to speak freely, whereas minority groups do not share these advantages. The exclusion of non-white groups and the unearned privileges that dominant groups receive results in these serious issues being overlooked as this is seen as completely normal. It is strictly important for the tourism industry to acknowledge these problematic factors so that they can find ways of resolving the issues and enabling every individual to participate in tourism without feeling hesitant.
It has been highlighted for many years how black individuals are perceived, they have been seen as inferior by the dominant groups in society. This originates from the history of violence and enslavement they have endured in the past, and whilst these traditions and beliefs are outdated in today's society, they still manifest themselves in the form of racial discrimination and prejudice. Stephenson and Hughes (2006) focuses on the access and barriers that the minority groups experience in tourism, noting that there has been a number of incidents, particularly across European destinations, that has resulted in black communities being marginalised within places such as hotels, transport, and so on. The purpose of the conference paper is to also consider how ethnic minority groups perceive European destinations once they have encountered social inequalities based on their racial and ethnic backgrounds, and whether they would return to those places. In this case, a use of primary research was implemented in order to facilitate the discussion by interviewing an individual from either a black or Muslim background so that they could share their negative experiences. These experiences ranged from incidents in tourist destinations, to highly secure locations such as airport security and country borders. Scott and Jafari (2010: 37) also express how individuals of Muslim backgrounds suffer greatly from the same issues that black communities do, except it would appear that they are increasingly being targeted each day based on their physical appearances. This is due to the fear of terrorist attacks, especially since the 9/11 incident. Many Muslim individuals who simply wanted to travel for leisure found themselves being personally targeted. Especially in security checks in airports and borders which had become stricter in order to reduce the threat of terrorism.
Excluding black and Muslim communities from tourism participation would not only affect their consumer choice and their perception of these places but it could negatively affect the tourism industry of these European destinations. These destinations would lose prospective tourists as they would then have a reputation as being unwelcoming towards minority groups. This could result in a decreased level of tourism, which could have a negative impact on their economy. However, it is important to note that this conference paper also argues that racial discrimination in a tourist destination across Europe may not stop minority groups from revisiting countries, and highlights how they manage to cope with these difficult situations through the use of primary research. In order to deal with these issues effectively, steps need to be taken to ensure that minority groups do not face these social inequalities any longer, and that they can access tourist destinations across Europe without uncertainty of what may happen to them in terms of racial discrimination. An important aspect of resolving these problems would be educating people about different cultures and ethnic backgrounds so that they do not form judgemental perceptions of minority groups. This would enable everyone to understand and respect one another, allowing any minority individuals to participate in tourism within Europe and integrate well with host communities. If this is achieved, and increased cultural awareness is implemented, the future may be optimistic for minority groups and the tourist destinations they visit within Europe.
Cole, S. and Morgan, N. (2010). Tourism and inequality. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: CABI.
Scott, N. and Jafari, J. (2010). Tourism in the Muslim world. Bingley: Emerald.
Stephenson, M. and Hughes, H. (2005). Racialised boundaries in tourism and travel: a case study of the UK black Caribbean community. Leisure Studies, 24(2), pp.137-160