2017: Towards equal tourism participation and inclusive working environments: access, security and wellbeing  >  Making tourism accessible to all


Travel experiences and impacts of racial profiling in the EU: the case study of African minorities in Finland.

Written by: Lyonga, Kelly

University: Lincoln


Travel is the most essential human activity of the modern society, however minorities are still missing out on this opportunity because of being racially profiled and discriminated by white others. Thus, this paper attempt to discuss travel experiences and racial profiling impacts of black others in Europe and Finland.

Keywords: Race, racism, travel experiences, tourism accessibility, and racial profiling impacts.

European Union legislations state that, minorities who possess citizenship and residency within member-states, have equal rights to travel and explore destinations the same way native Europeans do (Stephenson, 2006). On the other hand, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that every human being has the right to freedom of movement (Sager, 2006). However, despite of the fact that the tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world, there is still prejudice and discrimination of ethnic minorities by ethnic majorities which significantly influences holiday preferences of minorities.

Racism and racial discrimination of blacks historically formed during slavery, colonial expansion and immigration of the 19th and 21st century (Stephenson and Hughes, 2005). During research three forms of racism have been recognised, and they are individual racism, institutional racism and cultural racism. Individual racism is when one choose to prejudice other racial communities negatively, cultural racism is about values, beliefs and ideas, it embeds on individuals common sense which praise the superiority of white culture. Institutional racism on another hand is when government policies are practiced in a manner that denies equal opportunities to minorities such as access to society’s resources, power and anatomy, or blame the excluded groups for their dilemma (Dominelli, 1992).

Although black others are the ones who suffered the most brutal crimes upon human race. Yet post slavery and colonial black people are presented with negative images of crime, drugs and many others. It is interesting to observe that, though white others are most likely to oppress and discriminate minorities, yet, they are never portrayed as a threatening group to others.

Chris: People judge your whole existence just by looking at your skin colour, even though they do not know who you are, what country do you come from or what language do you speak.
Some may argue that we live in a colour blind society because as the world has now become multi-cultured, consequently anyone should be able to explore any destination without any conflicts. Yet, literature and study research indicates that, due to racial discrimination behaviour of white others, black others thus fail to explore destinations. Furthermore, black others are targeted by border frontiers and customs officers in airports (Stephenson, 2006). Research also reveal that, due to three racism factors mentioned above, black others primarily prefer travelling to cosmopolitan cities as they are more multi-cultured, rather than small towns or areas that are notably populated by white others.

Cindy: I still avoid places where there are a lot of white people because I do not like to be singled out as that has never been a good experience to me, so I only go to multi-cultural places/events.

Nonetheless, though racism significantly still exists, this study still encourage black others to travel because self-determination is the only opportunity that allows individuals to be responsible of their own fates. Besides, there are many nice and friendly white others in the world that do not condone racism nor support racial discrimination. Furthermore, individual and/or cultural racism can also be practiced by black others the same way it is practiced by white others.


Dominelli, L. (1992) An uncaring profession? An examination of racism in Social work. In: P, Braham., A, Rattansi., and R, Skellington (eds). Racism and antiracism: Inequalities, opportunities and policies. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 166-178.

Sager, T. (2006) Freedom as mobility: Implications of the Distinction between actual and potential travelling. Mobilities, 1 (3) 465-488.

Stephenson, L.M (2006) Travel and the ‘freedom of movement’: Racialised encounters and experiences amongst ethnic minority tourists in the EU. Mobilities, 1 (2) 285-306.

Stephenson, L.M., and Hughes, L.H. (2005) Racialised boundaries in tourism and travel: A case study of UK black Caribbean community. Leisure Studies, 24 (2) 137-160.