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The experiences of racial discrimination against ethnic minority groups travelling across Europe

The experiences of racial discrimination against ethnic minority groups travelling across Europe
Author: Jade Dent
2 Commentries
Abstract: The purpose of this discussion paper is to highlight the issues associated with access to tourism. This focuses on ethnic minority groups encountering social inequalities due to racial differences across European destinations. This discussion aims to enable a deeper understanding about how racial discrimination and cultural prejudice can affect minority groups from participating in tourism and their decisions towards travelling to specific places. A use of primary research was implemented in order to facilitate the topic by interviewing an individual who has experienced these negative encounters whilst travelling abroad.

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 ‘outsiders’ 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 ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’, whereas non-white groups are viewed as ‘deviant’ and ‘unacceptable’. It is mentioned that majority groups have ‘white privilege’ 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
The experiences of racial discrimination against ethnic minority groups travelling across Europe
Author: Tanja Prami
A decision was made to comment on this particular discussion paper as it has been conducted to examine similar issues that were highlighted in my paper. Prejudice, discrimination and racism towards ethnic minorities have increased in recent years and they have become an alarming trend in Europe. Moufakkir (2014) argues that the hostility towards ethnic minorities is bound to impact the tourism supply and demand in Europe, how the region in perceived by ethnic minority tourists and also affect their intentions to travel within Europe.

The author makes definitions of the main terms used in the paper which demonstrates a broad approach to the research and makes it easier for the reader to comprehend the content of the paper.

The paper acknowledges the concern that this specific topic has not yet been comprehensively researched within tourism studies and explains why these problematic issues should not be ignored. The author states that, for example, Muslim travellers are being discriminated at the airports due to fear of terrorism. However, the background of the hostility towards different minority groups is a complex one, and perhaps the author could have researched this further. Several articles suggest that misinformation, ignorance and confusion around immigration issues are currently the main factors creating negative attitudes towards the ethnic minorities in Europe (Finney and Peach, 2004).

Due to the gap in the academic literature concerning this topic, I believe that the use of primary research was an excellent way to gain insightful knowledge and deeper understanding of the issues discussed in the paper. The author suggests ways in which racial discrimination may affect the perception of Europe by the ethnic minorities, and how the hostile attitudes can impact tourism access and participation. The paper makes useful recommendations on how to prevent prejudice and racism within Europe, and the importance of education and cultural exchanges are mentioned. Atanmo (2015) agrees with this notion, and states that meaningful, educational cultural exchanges are the only way to prevent racist attitudes.

In general, this was an interesting and well-written discussion paper of a topic which have been overlooked within the tourism studies. The use of primary research adds to the originality of this piece, and makes a contribution towards wider understanding of these problematic issues.


Atanmo, G. (2015) Prague: My Least Favorite City in Europe. [blog entry] 20 April. The Blog Abroad: Chronicles of an Adventure Junkie. Available from http://theblogabroad.com/2015/08/04/prague-my-least-favorite-city-in-europe/ [Accessed 20 April 2016].

Finney, N. and Peach, E. (2004) Attitudes towards Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Other Immigrants. Commission for Racial Equality.

Mouffakir, O. (2014) What’s Immigration Got to do with it? Immigrant Animosity and its Effects on Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 49, 108-121.
The experiences of racial discrimination against ethnic minority groups travelling across Europe
Author: Nichole Williams
The production of this commentary was led by the appealing title, topic and issues discussed in this paper. This issues highlighted were interesting and informative, stimulating further exploration into the topic. The reason for choosing this paper was due to the fact it challenges modern issues within tourism and the alarming trend of discrimination in Europe’s Tourism.

The author primarily introduces the issue of the paper, which is racism in tourism and how it is still common in this modern day. She promptly highlights the ethnic groups that are being focused on, and the surrounding issues that are being investigated. The Cole and Morgan (2010:16) article is a prime example of how socioeconomic groups can be excluded due to their race, consequentially setting the opening and background academically for the rest of the paper.

Throughout the paper, the author successfully demonstrates thorough understanding of the topic they have written about. Each reference used is effectively implemented in each paragraph and set the scene for each section within the paper. The author discusses hostility towards different minorities successfully in regards of sensitivity, suggesting Muslims can be targeted at airports. However many articles contradict this view suggesting it is falsification and ignorance; as currently in Europe the attitudes towards ethnic minorities is closely related to the attitudes towards immigration. (Finney and Peach, 2004).

Stephenson and Hughes (2006) article highlights how the access and barriers in minority groups are experienced, which is a crucial part of the paper. This is effectively done as it briefly, but successfully, explains how the academia fits in with the theme of the paper. However it doesn’t allow much of an insight into which countries are the most prejudice within Europe. After brief research, it is evident that Switzerland is one of the most racist countries in the EU due to their 2007 law where members of your local community must vote on your citizenship application. Resulting in prejudice towards race and disability. (Munawar, A. 2015).

The author effectively concludes the paper, by providing recommendations on how to improve aspects of travelling for ethnic minorities and strategies that could be put in place to enhance visitor experience. Presenting an understanding, interest and personal opinion on the possible future of racism in tourism.
Overall the papers well written, the sources adopted within the paper provide informative information, highlighting how tourism can be affected by racism and how it is still common even within 2016, including primary research creating a raw holistic perspective. Nevertheless the discussion paper still delivers a prosperous summary of the overall paper, intriguing readers to immensely consider reading the full conference paper.


Finney, N. and Peach, E. (2004) Attitudes towards Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Other Immigrants. Commission for Racial Equality.

Munawar, A. (2015). 11 Most racist countries in Europer. Available: http://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/11-most-racist-countries-in-europe-347956/. Last accessed 12th May 2016.

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