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We need a modern day Green Book” – How race impacts the tourism experiences of BAME travellers

We need a modern day Green Book” – How race impacts the tourism experiences of BAME travellers
Author: Chioma Peters
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This conference paper sought to understand how racism affects BAME travellers access to tourism around Europe. The research aims and objectives focused on how BAME travellers experience mobility around Europe and whether they adopt any coping strategies to combat racism when abroad. By conducting a semi-structured interview with a member of the BAME community and by utilising the intersectionality concept to underpin the research, issues of racism and discrimination in Europe are examined.
Key words: BAME, discrimination, Europe, Racism, Tourism

Discussion Paper
Europe has a deplorable history regarding racism towards ethnic minorities, stemming from a history of the slave trade and colonialism. Beliefs of ethnic minorities as being inferior is traced back to the 18th century, however, this stereotype is still significantly present across the continent (Olusoga, 2016). Post 9/11 heightened the difficulties faced by ethnic minority travellers when accessing tourism in Europe, particularly Asian and Muslim travellers who were seen as “terrorists” (Wazir, 2001). The paper then goes on to discuss how these issues have contributed to BAME travel habits, making them more apprehensive about visiting ‘white spaces’ (Stephenson and Hughes, 2005) and the coping strategies they adopt to avoid experiencing racial discrimination such as travelling in large groups (Carter, 2008).

Additionally, the lack of ethnic minority representation in destination marketing is another factor that affects BAME travel as firstly, the portrayal of ethnic minorities is rather rare and greatly restricted within travel brochures (Burton and Klemm, 2011) and secondly when they are, they are depicted as part of the tourism product, the object of the tourist gaze, ‘the exotic other’ (Klemm, 2002) lack of representation puts tourism providers at risk of losing ethnic minorities as customers. Finally, the paper uses the intersectionality theory to explain how factors such as race, gender, and class intersect and affect tourism experiences.
After critically assessing existing literature, it was evident that there was a gap in the literature regarding the racialized experiences of black male travellers, many anecdotes exist from black women and Asian ethnics, however, black male accounts are limited. This paper aimed to fill that gap by conducting a semi-structured interview with a young adult black British male who because of his profession, travels frequently to Europe. The interview questions were formed by topics explored in the literature review and through them allowed the interviewee to share his opinions about racial discrimination and prejudice in Europe and also discuss his own experiences. As a qualitative research method, semi-structured interviews are flexible and emphasise the interviewee’s perceptions of the issues (Bell et al., 2019) hence why it was chosen to collect primary research for this paper.

The findings from the research were congruent with existing literature and confirmed that racialised experiences impact a person’s perceptions of a destination (Stephenson and Hughes, 2005) and how intersecting factors such as gender and class do not always produce positive tourism experiences, especially when race is also considered. Furthermore, the results highlighted several coping strategies adopted by BAME travellers when travelling, some of which had been formed as the result of previous direct racial experiences and some that had been formed indirectly through stories and safety instructions passed down to them from older generations who experienced racism (Carter, 2008; Lee and Scott, 2016). The interviewee also stated that “there should be a travel guide to inform ethnic minorities of destinations to be wary of”, this of course, is a reference to Victor Hugo Green’s Negro Travelers’ Green Book which was published yearly as a guide for African-Americans facing difficulties whilst travelling in the era of Jim Crow laws, the book was withdrawn from circulation in the 1960s due to the success of the civil rights movement (White, 2019).

To summarise, the purpose of this paper was to identify how racism affects BAME travellers access to tourism around Europe, and give a voice to black male travellers, as their racialised experienced often go unheard or are trivialised in research and in the media if so, this paper aspired to fill that gap. However, the study of race and tourism participation remains somewhat underdeveloped (Stephenson and Hughes, 2005). Racism, prejudice, and discrimination towards BAME travellers is still widespread across Europe therefore, tourism providers and tourism organisations in Europe should work towards educating their nationals about ethnic minorities and making tourism participation within the continent accessible to all.

Carter, P. (2008) Coloured Places and Pigmented Holidays: Racialized Leisure Travel. Tourism Geographies, 10(3), pp.265–284.
Lee, K. and Scott, D. (2016) Racial Discrimination and African Americans’ Travel Behavior. Journal of Travel Research, 56(3), pp.381–392.
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.