Black Meetings and Tourism

November/December 2020

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B M & T ••• November/December 2020 ••• 32 T R AV E L DATA NEW STUDY HIGHLIGHTS $34 BILLION TOURISM OPPORTUNITY AND STRONG TRAVELER INTEREST IN BLACK HISTORY AND CULTURE: CAROLINAS, GEORGIA AND FLORIDA STAND TO BENEFIT The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a National Heritage Area, released initial findings from a new market survey report that indicates traveler interest in vis- iting the region's Gullah Geechee and African-American her- itage sites is strong. The report was prepared by (b)Mandala Research(eb) which valued the potential leisure spend for the four states that make up the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida – at $34B, The report also revealed strong name recognition among travelers nationwide for Gullah Geechee culture indicating the immense potential for encouraging more her- itage and cultural tourism to the Corridor. This new report was privately funded by the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and is the first to explore the national market for Gullah Geechee her- itage tourism. It is poised to be an important driv- er for community-driven historic and cultural preserva- tion, new educational programs, and econo- mic investment in Gullah Gee-hee busine-sses. Findings in the report were based on a national, market survey of 1,000 U.S. leisure travelers conducted in June of this year in addition to stakeholder meetings and interviews with Gullah Geechee community members and tourism officials. Key to the findings was that African-American her- itage is strong motivator for travel and just under a quarter of all travelers (24%) expressed a strong inter- est in visiting sites in the South that are of historic sig- nificance to African-Americans. Overall, the relative importance of African-American culture in choice of a destination is high with 36% of all travelers ranking it either "very important" or "somewhat important," and African-Americans (50%) and Millennials (49%) statisti- cally more likely to say it has this level of importance. Looking specifically at Gullah Geechee destina- tions, the survey found that 37% of travelers who lived in nearby states (the "drive market") were familiar with Gullah Geechee culture and that 51% of African- American Culture Enthusiast were aware of it. Levels of awareness were also high among African-Americans, LGBTQ, Millennials, and affluent travelers. The report also sheds light on the most desired cul- tural experiences. "Experiencing local cuisine" was cited by 65% of the travelers surveyed setting the stage for more investment in educating Americans about traditional Gullah Geechee foodways and cre- ating more cross-cultural, culinary experiences around Gullah Geechee restaurants, farms and chefs. The St. Simons African American Historic Coalition operates the Historic Harrington School museum and cultural center on St. Simons Island, Georgia, It is one of the many Gullah Geechee heritage sites that will benefit from this report. "The data presented here will go a long way in helping us under- stand what experiences tourists travel- ing along the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor are interested in and to develop our heritage tourism offerings." The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is a federal, National Heritage Area that spans 12,000 square miles of the Lower Atlantic coastline of the United States. The National Heritage Area program is managed by the U.S. National Park Service. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. The purpose of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor NHA is to preserve, share and interpret the his- tory, traditional cultural practices, heritage sites, and nat- ural resources associated with Gullah Geechee people of coastal North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Visit them at gullahgeecheecorri -

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