Black Meetings and Tourism

November/December 2020

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B M & T ••• November/December 2020 ••• 13 ture and its economy. The African- American experience has seen Blacks traveling in slave ships and following the free- dom trail of the underground railroad, to seeking the prom- ise of equality by migrating from southern cities to places all across the country, daring to be a part of the generation of the motoring public, relying on the historic Green Book and other popular African-American travel guides for safety during the 1930s through the 1960s. Because the doors of most hotels, restau- rants and other public venues were closed to them, Black travelers established their own networks to meet their needs as they visited relatives, met in gath- erings for socializing and educational pur- poses, and simply to explore the place that had become their homeland. Fast forward to 1993 when Ronald Brown was the first African- American appointed as Secretary of Com- merce during the Clin-ton White House years, a formerly "Hidden Figure," Leslie R. Doggett served as Deputy Under Secre-tary of Commerce for the United States Travel and Tourism Admin- istration, making her the highest ranking A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n female federal tourism official in U.S. history. During her tenure serv- ing in that capacity and later as Baltimore Area Con-vention and Visitors Association president and CEO, Doggett was a strong advocate for growing Travel & Tour-ism to strengthen the U.S. economy. She was an early proponent of developing "Cultural Tourism" to compete in the global Travel/Tourism market. It was during that time that the United States Travel and Tourism Administration began to recognize the roles of various ethnic market segments within the Industry. The annual economic impact of the African-American com- ponent of the Travel Market was substantiated to be $15 bil- lion. 1994 saw William S. Norman, a former naval flight officer at the U.S. Naval Academy and White House aide in the Johnson and Nixon administrations, assume a major executive role in Travel, as the president and chief executive offi- cer of the Travel Indus- try Association of America (TIA). Under Norman's leadership TIA further expanded the inclusion of "minority markets" in its rese-arch and outreach. During the mid-late nineties, Dr. Suzanne Cook, Senior Vice President of Research at The Travel Industry Association of America, (TIA) in her study, Tourism Futures Looking Out to 2020, stated that "more than 1 out of every 10 travelers in the U.S. is "a minority." The 2000 edition of TIA's Minority Traveler reported the "travel volume among African-Americans increased 16 percent over a three-year period starting in 1997. Travel among Hispanic-Americans was up 11 percent, while Asian-American travel volume increased 7 percent over the same period." The African- American market was acknowledged as the fastest growing segment in the Travel Industry. The value of the market was validated at $30 billion. Those years brought three significant occurrences that dramatically changed the picture of BLACK TRAVEL; the first was in 1990. After major racially motivated civil distur- bances in the city of Miami, FL, human rights icon Nelson Mandela was invited to receive a proclamation and the key to the city. Because Mandela acknowledged Fidel Castro for supporting him during his 30 years of imprisonment, the Miami city leaders rescinded the official welcome. This trig- gered what prominent Miami African-Amer-ican attorney, H.T. Smith refers to as "the quiet riot," which led to a boy- cott that would keep Black businesses and organizations from visiting and doing business in Miami for almost three years and reportedly cost the area upwards of $50 million in lost convention busi- ness and tourism rev- enue. After the dust set- tled, Miami city officials and the African- American community came to terms, imple- menting major political, social and economic improvements directly and indirectly attributa- ble to the boycott. Among the notable results was the establish- ment of a Black-owned, c o n v e n t i o n - q u a l i t y hotel in the Miami

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