Zim Ugochukwu started the website Travel Noire in September of 2013, to show that even though the travel industry wasn’t catering or marketing to them, there were plenty of young black professionals traveling the world. She had just spent a year in India, working and traveling throughout Southeast Asia, discovering the pleasures of solo travel.
As a lone adventurer, Ugochukwu wanted a way to connect with fellow black travelers, who at the time were few and far between on social media, she tells Quartz. Since then the website’s Instagram page has attracted more than 56,000 followers, all eager to peruse photos of black travelers sharing their explorations, from Istanbul to Italy. They are part of a group of young world wanderers who are hoping to draw attention to the underserved market of black travel.
On the website, some 115 travelers of the African diaspora contribute write-ups and photos of their experiences in new places. One of the recent posts shared a Google Doc of travelers who had taken advantage of recent glitch pricing that offered cheap flights from the US to Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg. In response, more than 100 people shared their contact information and activities they wanted to do in the cities with fellow travelers.
Many of those travelers found out about the glitches from Nomadness Travel Tribe, a group of 9,000 travelers, mostly African American between 25-40 years of age and with yearly incomes around $40,000-$75,000, Nomadness founder Evita Robinson tells Quartz. Travel Noire’s demographic is similar: Its 70,000 monthly unique visitors are 25-35, in roughly the same income range, though some are higher.
The roughly $50 billion African-American travel industry could benefit from marketing that targets these avid young travelers, and links them to their history or the African diaspora of travel destinations, says Laura Mandala, managing director of tourism research firm Mandala Research, which published a report on African American travelers in 2011.
Instagram and other social media are an easy way in, Ugochukwu and Robinson tell Quartz. “Individuals of the African diaspora have been traveling for eons,” Ugochukwu says. But the more they see others’ travels online, the more they inspire each other to travel.