Black Meetings and Tourism

Sep/Oct 2011

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the Needs of Your Meeting Meeting By DARLENE DONLOE MEETING THE NEEDS OF YOUR MEETING It's time to decide which destina- tion and venue to book for your next event, conference, convention or board meeting. Back in the day, organizing those occasions was more of a routine task – make some phone calls, prepare an agenda, assemble the minutes, reports and documents and put them all in a neat little binder. That was then, this is now. Meetings have taken on a life of their own. A lot more details are involved in making them a success. Bells and whistles aside, what meeting planners need to be armed with is information, information and more information. This column aids meeting planners in their decision-making process by providing vital information on specific destinations. Highlighted in this column are San Diego, CA; Birmingham, AL; Columbia, SC and Trinidad & Tobago. SAN DIEGO, CA "San Diego has a lot to offer," says Clara Carter, president and founder of the Multi-Cultural Convention Services Network. "We have 365 days of sunshine and miles of pristine beaches. San Diego is a tapes- try of rich racial and ethnic diver- sity. It's a sooth- ing place. We are only minutes away from the CLARA CARTER 20 San Diego Convention Center mountains, the beach and the casinos." "America's Finest City," has a popu- lation of 1.3 million (three million in San Diego county) of which 6.7% is African-American. Hotel rooms total 57,000, with 72,000 total rooms and spaces if you include casino hotels and bed and breakfast inns. The San Diego Convention Center, located downtown, has 2.6 million gross sq. ft., 615,701 sq. ft. total exhibit space and 204,114 sq. ft. overall meet- ing space. It sits right on the water with a spectacular view of San Diego Bay. San Diego Regional Airport, the nation's busiest single-runway, is about five minutes from downtown San Diego where you'll also find Amtrak and Greyhound. Attractions include Seaworld, Seaport Village, San Diego Natural History Museum and Balboa Park, the largest urban park in the nation with 15 museums, restaurants, the world famous San Diego Zoo, botanical gar- dens, hiking and biking trails. Fashion Valley has 200 stores and several restaurants. Old Town San Diego has shops, restaurants and a historical park and is home to the "best" homemade tor- tillas and margaritas. A sure bet is NTC Promenade (Liberty Station), located at the former Naval Training Center in Point Loma. It offers state-of-the-art venues for indoor or outdoor weddings, events, parties, seminars, retreats, and meet- ings. For wine aficionados, there are con- venient trips to local wineries in Temecula, located less than 60 miles away. To soothe tired muscles, La Costa Resort hits the spot. For dining, nightlife and shopping, The Gaslamp Quarter may be in order. San Diego is minutes from the International border – Tijuana, Mexico. Originally from San Diego, Carter, who is also manager of global accounts for Helms Briscoe, calls her city, "Pretty laid back. It can be as exciting as you want it to be. It's a beautiful destination. People marvel at our city. They come for the meeting and stay for the vacation. Some people don't want to leave." For information:, mccsn.comor Black Meetings & Tourism September/October 2011: Photo Credit: San Diego CVB

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