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How Can Tourism Take Action to Prevent Racism against Black Tourists?

How Can Tourism Take Action to Prevent Racism against Black Tourists?
Author: Mao OKUNUKI
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The paper aims to explore the impact of racism on black tourists and propose strategies for the tourism industry to provide equivalent travel experiences to them without fear of racism.

Key words: Black Tourists, Racism, Educational Approach, Zero-Tolerance Policy, Workshops, Smart Tourism

Racism is perceived as politically/socially incorrect, and diverse nations and organisations address the issue. However, black tourists are still facing barriers to tourism participation by the persistence of racism.

According to Lee and Scott (2017), the fear of racism leads to the tendency of four travel behaviour in black tourists: (1) travel the environment being observed always, (2) avoid the small or rural areas, (3) visit familiar places and utilise established and well-known hotel and restaurants, (4) travel with companies. These behaviours is caused by two impacts: direct and indirect racist experiences.

The direct racist experience is caused by both service providers of tourism-related businesses and people such as local and other tourists. For instance, black tourists often encounter the racial mistreatment in the tourism-related business (e.g., unwelcome services, refusing the entrance and being made a distance from black tourists), negative communication and expression from people (e.g., physical provocation, verbal insults and intense staring) and treatment as “othering” due to characteristics of appearance such as skin colour.

These racial behaviours and attitudes have been also shared with others by those who experienced them, which brings indirect racial experience to those who have not come across them directly. Due to the current norm of the internet, the storytelling is, moreover, easier to spread out to a large number of other black tourists through digital social media, which generates fear of racism toward travel even more. Therefore, many black tourists are thus limited in their travel choice by fear of these direct and indirect racism experiences.

The educational approach is one of the significant tasks for tourism to improve the circumstance. The educational program for equity race and anti-racism is conducted by various nations and organisations. By supporting and promoting such programs, it can expect to reduce the racist beliefs of people in the travel destination, which contribute to a reduction of racist behaviour against black tourists. In addition, promoting travelling to people is also a potential approach because it becomes an educational opportunity for racial understanding through experiencing cross-culture and interaction with different perspectives of people.

Tourism organisations are also required to develop the education/training of employees to eliminate racial services to black tourists. The paper proposes introducing a zero-tolerance policy and workshops that discuss racism among employees. A comprehensive zero-tolerance policy that restricts the use of coded, stereotypical and racist languages and training under the policy can be expected to eliminate the spreading of racialised status beliefs in the workplace (Brewster, 2012). Also, workshops that discuss racism among employees would create a social dialogic process in which understanding the humanity in each other and identifying with the shared feeling of others, and may contribute to eliminating the internalised racist belief (Cumberland et al., 2021). That implies that interacting with diverse employees can be expected to create an inclusive workplace, accordingly, would improve the racial service to customers.

However, it can be argued that the educational approach is a long-term strategy. The paper thus suggests smart tourism management as an instant strategy. Internet platform/community shared racial experience by black tourists (e.g., BTM) is not only a storytelling space but also is a source of information for DMOs and travel organisations to gain the authentic voice of black tourists about racism while travelling. Their experience will be significant references to formulate the direction and strategy of the destination and organisation to prevent the occurrence of racism in that destination.

Consequently, the education approach (support education programs, promote travel and introduction of zero-tolerance policy and workshops that discuss racism among employees) and smart tourism management can be a potential approach to breaking barriers of black tourists to tourism participation. These strategies will make inclusive travel destinations and accordingly reduce direct and indirect racist experiences, which will contribute to the greater travel experience of black tourists without fear of racism.

Reference list
Brewster, Z. (2012) Racially Discriminatory Service in Full-Service Restaurants: The Problem, Cause, and Potential Solitons. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 53(4) 274-285. Available from Racially Discriminatory Service in Full-Service Restaurants (sagepub.com) [Accessed 10 June 2022].

Cumberland, D., Deckard, T. and Ellinger, A. (2021) Responding to racial injustice by listening and learning from employees. Journal of Workplace Learning, 33 (8) 606-618.

Lee, K. and Scott, D. (2017) Racial Discrimination and African Americans’ Travel Behaviour: The Utility of Habitus and Vignette Technique. Journal of Travel Research, 56 (3) 381-392. Available from (PDF) Racial Discrimination and African Americans' Travel Behavior: The Utility of Habitus and Vignette Technique (researchgate.net) [Accessed 10 June 2022].