When preparing to head on vacation, deciding which destinations to stay away from might not always be a top priority. However, for Black travelers, the idea you may not be welcome in certain destinations is a real concern.
Back in the day, publications like the Negro Motorist Green Book would help guide travelers of color. The book outlined destinations, towns, and accommodations that were accepting and inclusive of Black travelers. While some argue such publications are no longer needed, regular examples of discrimination, racism, and violence can still be seen in places all over the world.
Many destinations have been described as friendly and safe travel destinations for people of color. However, while some places have grown in travel popularity, some Black travelers say their experience there was less than ideal. Here are a few destinations Black travelers said they’ve felt unwelcomed when visiting.
Traveler and mom Di visited China back in 2011 with a male classmate of hers. He was a taller, athletic guy with a darker complexion and the attention from Chinese locals made them both feel unwelcome.
Di said she felt like a museum exhibit while exploring the country. People would gawk at them as they walked by. Little children would run away screaming and crying from her dark-skinned friend. The worst part was how comfortable strangers were with attempting to touch them.
“Other people were walking up to us trying to touch our skin and trying to touch his skin and looking at their fingers as if it were dirt or paint or something that was going to come off,” Di said.
While she didn’t have this experience when visiting Shang-Hai, Di said her time spent in Beijing and the northern provinces earned China as the destination where she felt the least welcome. Her interpreter was verbally harassed for asking street vendors not to inflate prices due to her being an American tourist and locals often walked up to inquire about why her friend was so much darker than she was.
“China is definitely on the list of one of the places I do not have to go back to,” she said.
While visiting Tahiti, Destinee had incredible experiences with the native Tahitian population. The locals taught her new words and were welcoming to her while visiting the French Polynesian island. However, her experience with the French locals made it the least welcome of any destination she’d visited.
“It was a lot of staring and standoffish behavior and looking in disgust, almost as if they were bothered by our presence there,” Destinee said.
While taking a tour of the island, Destinee’s tour guide told the group the island doesn’t get many tourists of color. She believed this was prevalent in the microaggressions she experienced while in Tahiti. Many retail workers didn’t greet or acknowledge her and the other Black travelers when they entered their stores. She watched people refuse to hold open doors for Black travelers and felt an overall air of frustration from French locals when exploring the island.
Having traveled to a few international destinations, Destinee said she rarely has issues feeling welcome among native locals. Most of her least welcoming experiences when traveling abroad occur with European locals.
“Honestly, I’ve been to four countries, and in all four of those countries I’ve been to, the white people were always the ones who were the most problematic,” she said.
Elisia and her family made a stop in St. Martin as a part of a group cruise trip. While visiting the island, she saw a t-shirt for sale proclaiming St. Martin to be “The World’s Friendliest Island.” However, her time there was everything but friendly.
“Out of the four of five places we’d been to, this was literally the least friendliest,” she said. “They just are irritated with us.”
The young, American traveler and her family were exploring the tourist shopping area near the ship docks. They were looking for souvenirs to take back home. Elisia said the workers in the stores didn’t want to help her and her mom. They were upset with answering their questions and she felt like a bother when seeking clarity on the items she wanted to buy. The experience made her feel the least welcome of any other destination on the cruise.
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