Black Meetings and Tourism

November/December 2020

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Beach area — the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza, with majority A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n owner, R. Donahue Peebles. The second major "game changer" came in 1994 with the emer- gence of an interna- tional niche publica- tion, Black Meetings & Tourism (BM&T), which was, (and remains today) the exclusive trade maga- zine focusing on the business of Travel for and about the Afri- can-American segment of the Travel/Tourism, Hospitality and Lodging Industry. BM&T's forth- right reporting served as a plat- form to showcase the needs, the accomplishments and the value of this burgeoning, yet often overlooked mar- ket segment. As a media advocate spot- lighting groups such as the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, The Inter- national Travel Agents Society, The National Medical Association and a plethora of others, BM&T spawned a never before cultivated interest in African-American professional, frater- nal, civic and educational associations that regularly host local, regional and national meetings, conferences and conventions. Another step further assuring that BLACK TRAVEL would never be viewed the same, was taken in 1996 when the NAACP launched its first Economic Reciprocity Initiative (ERI), a sustained consumer movement meas- uring corporate "America's commitment to the African- American citizenry and other people of color." The ERI targeted major Hotel Brand/Lodging companies survey- ing them for their activity with Black Americans in employment, equity ownership and franchise opportuni- ties, advertising and marketing, philanthropy (charitable giving) and vendor relationships. Understanding that BLACK TOURISM DOLLARS spoke volumes, in 1999 the NAACP called for an eco- nomic boycott against South Carolina, demanding that the Confederate Flag be removed from state government and public grounds. It is reported that this boycott which lasted 15 years, cost the state of South Carolina many millions of dollars in Tourism revenue, including one col- lege baseball tournament, two college football bowl games, and potentially scores of college basketball tour- nament games, plus entertainment events from top name performers. Not to mention hundreds of African- American events including appearances by the New York Knicks, Serena Williams and other top name "crowd pleasers" who publicly denounced the display of the Confederate Flag. 1999 was also the year that Adams Mark Hotels faced several civil, state, and federal lawsuits for racial discrim- ination against Black customers. It was the first hotel chain to face a United States Juatice Department inquiry into racial discrimination for violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit, and subsequent 17-month boycott of the chain called by the NAACP, was settled out of court for $8 million. In the year 2001 the Global Travel Industry experienced the most horrifically devastating downturn in its history with the tragedy of September 11th. While all segments of the market struggled, subsequently the African-American mar- ket demonstrated strong indications of an early "Rebound." Polls and surveys showed that African-Americans continued to travel slightly longer dis- tances and with greater fre- quency than their general mar- ket counterparts. As the Travel Industry con- tinued to realize the great potential in exploring the "thirst for travel that exists among minority populations in the US," more attention was paid to further understand those market segments. According to the 2011 African American Traveler Study, published by Laura Mandala Research, the value of the African-American leisure market was reported to be over $48 billion. The many developments that have evolved in the decade that followed Man- dala's initial study are the basis for PART 2 of this article, which will be featured in the next issue of Black Meetings & Tourism. There you will gain more details about the various components of this market seg- ment; WHO they are, WHERE they are traveling and WHY. All valuable informa- tion for astute Travel Industry professionals. STAY TUNED: Glo & Sol B M & T ••• November/December 2020 ••• 14

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