By Jacqueline Yu, MMGY Account Executive, Los Angeles, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council Member
Crimes motivated by Anti-Asian sentiment have risen as much as 1900% in major American cities such as New York City since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Though COVID-19 originated in China, Asians of all origins and nationalities have been impacted in the last year and continue to feel the harmful effects. MMGY stands with the Asian community at this time. Below, we examine the effects this rise in hate incidents has had on Asian travelers and Asian communities as well as the responsibility destinations and brands have to protect these communities.
Before the pandemic, Asian American spending power was projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2022, with this segment having spent $82.6 billion on leisure travel in 2019. Unfortunately, as travel returns following the pandemic, many Asian travelers feel unsafe and may be less likely to travel to areas with high incidents of racially motivated violence. When members of this community do travel, expect them to travel for family trips and to stay in small groups. Personalized experiences that take safety into consideration could be seen as an advantage when booking trips.
Destinations have a responsibility to not only protect Asian travelers but also to protect local communities that reflect their culture and heritage. Chinatowns, Japantowns and other cultural enclaves have a troubled history based in segregation and exclusion. Over time, these areas have flourished and ultimately became a draw for tourism. MMGY Travel Intelligence shows a steadily growing interest in travelers engaging in cultural activities or exploring their family’s background during a leisure stay*, indicating that these will be important experiences for travelers moving forward. As Asian-owned businesses continue to close over the course of the pandemic, these areas are at risk of not recovering. Endemic, in-language support for these business owners as well as financial resources from destinations and civic organizations can help ensure these neighborhoods and businesses continue to be a source of rich cultural experiences for both Asian and non-Asian travelers.
Travel brands and destinations have a responsibility to keep this in mind in order to support stronger relationships with the Asian community. To paint a wider image of this diverse group MMGY Travel Intelligence has gathered the below DK Shifflet PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM data based on a survey of over 4,000 participants.
- 275 million Asian U.S. leisure travelers spent $82.6 billion in 2019.
- With a 32% higher HHI of $140,813, Asian U.S. leisure travelers tend to be more affluent than the U.S. general population.
- Asian travelers also skew younger, with an average age of 45, and are 27% more likely to take overnight trips with children.
- They are more than twice as likely to fly compared to the USGP.
- Top leisure activities include visiting friends and relatives, culinary and dining experiences, and shopping.
- Forty-two percent of overnight trips with Asian travelers are booked 1–3 months in advance. Asians also under index for same day and <1 week bookings, preferring to plan their trips in advance.
For more than 40 years, our syndicated travel performance data has provided the industry’s most complete analyses of residents’ travel behaviors, which empowers us to identify trends and create forecasts. Look ahead to more detailed snapshots of niche audiences across the U.S., including forthcoming studies on Latinx and Asian American travelers, two first-of-their-kind reports developed in partnership with underrepresented travel advocacy organizations that are created to gain a deeper understanding of all travel communities.
*Interest in visiting a cultural site grew 12% from 2015–2020; interest in exploring one’s family’s background/past grew 9% from 2017–2019.