Black Meetings and Tourism

July/August 2014

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31 B M & T ••• July/August 2014 ••• When Black Meetings & Tourismwas founded in 1993, African- Americans were few and far between in the Meetings/Tourism/-Hospitality industry, especially at the upper echelons. There was only one Black CVB presi- dent (Melvin Tennant, in Oakland, CA), one Black- owned hotel (the Best Western Benchmark in down- town Memphis, TN owned by Mabra Holleyfield), and just a handful of Black hotel general managers. Believe it or not, this was a vast improvement over our presence in the industry just 10 years earlier when the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners was established. At that point there were no Black CVB Presidents, only one Black hotel General Manager (John Dixon had just been named GM at the brand new J.W. Marriott property in DC), and only 15 African-Americans working at conven- tion and visitors bureaus across the nation, two of them mind you, at the Atlanta CVB. That meant that only 14 CVBs had any Black employees, and the other nearly 500 bureaus had none. Fast forward 31 years, and today there are 11 CVBs headed by African-Americans, over 500 hotels owned by African-Americans, and close to 100 Black general managers. African-Americans have also made inroads into the cruise industry, with Arnold Donald ascending to president and CEO of Carnival Corporation in 2013. What follows is a year-by-year review of Black Meetings & Tourism's 20-year publishing run, highlighting selected issues and some of the significant developments and milestones which we covered from 1994-2014. NOVEMBER 1994 In my publisher's message of BM&T's first issue, November 1994, I capsulized our goals: "The time had come, I felt, to return to my original mission of providing you with a high quality publica- tion that showcases African-American hospitality professionals, rec- ognizes their achievements in this industry, affords them a platform to address their concerns, and serves as an agent for change. Black Meetings & Tourism is that vehicle." I trust I have fulfilled this pledge. This inaugural issue included reportage and profiles of many of our colleagues who have made major contributions to our industry, most of whom are still going strong. Ahmeenah Young, then direc- tor of Marketing and Communications for the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, was featured in our "Applause" col- umn. Industry up-and-comer Mark O'Ferral, a national sales man- ager at the Doral Ocean Beach Resort in Miami, was profiled in "Pacesetters," while Delta Sigma Theta's veteran meeting planner Vida Smith shared her expertise in our "Planner Profile" department. Others appearing in this issue were Wilhemina Boyd, Jerry Simmons, Roy Jay, Ernie Boger, Clayton Hicks, Kirk Bright, Gerry Fernandez and Ken Middleton, just to name a few. Our cover story for this first issue – "Heritage Tours Top Destination Draw" – was complemented by several features, includ- ing "NCBMP Brings its Fall Conference to Big Apple," "What Meeting Planners Look For in a Resort," and "African-Americans Played Key Role in Bartle Hall Expansion." And one thing has been constant since this very first issue. Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Portland and San Diego were among the advertisers who participated in the issue at the start of our journey, and are still actively supporting us to this very day. BM& thanks you. MELVIN TENNANT ROY JAY GERRY FERNANDEZ BY SOLOMON J. HERBERT

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