Black Meetings and Tourism

July / August 2018

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B M & T ••• July/August 2018 ••• 23 A frican-American travel has been increasing for decades and remains on the rise. The world has opened-up and African- Americans are seeking unique experi- ences that allow us to explore our roots, see new lands, and be a part of the world. When we attend conferences and conventions we are also looking for a tourism experience. We want to see where and how African-Americans live in other Cities. We want to visit muse- ums, eat in Black-owned restaurants and shop in our neighborhood stores. But as the hostile political environment against People of Color heightens, con- cerns of safety weigh heavily in our choices of where to hold conventions and take vacations. An African-American convention can contribute as much as $25M to a local economy, yet the travel industry and con- vention destinations don't always appear to care. The welcome mat is not neces- sarily out when Black Meeting Planners come in search of their next convention venue. But now, African-American con- sumers are flexing our financial muscle and demanding more outreach, market- ing, advertising and most of all respect when making our travel decisions. The travel industry spends very little marketing to African-American's while aggressively focusing advertising and marketing budgets on predominately White travel clientele. Much like BMW and Mercedes assumed in the '80s, many in the travel industry have taken the attitude that the African-American travelers will come whether they adver- tise or not. But they, like the a u t o m o t i v e industry in the '80s, are in for a rude awakening. The African-American consumer market spends $1.2 Trillion a year on a variety of products. We also spend nearly $60 Billion on travel alone. The travel industry assumes African- Americans want the same experi- ences as White travelers, and our need and desire to experience African-American culture is seldom addressed. TWO MARKETS – TWO ATTITUDES THE GOOD - SOUTH CAROLINA If you want to understand the signifi- cance of the African-American dollar you can look to South Carolina for the formula to success. Approximately 2,100,000 African-American visitors travel to South Carolina des- t i n a t i o n s annually, rep- resenting 6.6 percent of the state's total visita- tion. This rep- resents more than $20 Billion dollars of economic impact on the State with $6 Billion generated just from Charleston's hospitality to African-American tourism and conventions. The result is the sup- port of over 7,500 jobs and a contribution of approximately $22 million to local and state taxes. Even with these impressive numbers, which have increased steadily over the past seven years, South Carolina believes more is always better. For the past six years tourism industry WHY PLANNERS SHOULD ONLY BOOK DESTINATIONS THAT SUPPORT THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARKET SEGMENT BY MATTHEW THOMAS African-American His tory M use u m Co lumbia ,SC Photo Credit: Michael Spring

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