Black Meetings and Tourism

September / October 2015

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B M & T ••• September/October 2015 ••• 16 16 D describes the word reunion as, "…a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at reg- ular intervals or after separation…the act or process of coming together again…" And it seems, that despite our turbulent economy, many Black families contin- ue to come together at regular intervals no matter what. Even when money is tight and expenses are cut, they tend to focus on things that are important in life, such as family and main- taining friendships. Family reunions are a time-honored tradition in the African-American community dating back 150 years. These multi-generational family gatherings are arguably the largest sector of the African-American travel and tourism market. The birth of African-American family reunions can be traced back to Emancipation. Former slaves began the search for distant family members, by placing ads in newspa- pers or simply asking those who toiled on nearby plantations. For those able to reconnect, the reunions were glorious cele- bratory affairs. Several studies suggest that 90 percent of all family reunions are held by African-Americans. Organizing a family reunion, even for a seasoned profes- sional planner, can be a daunting task. The good news is that most, if not all convention and visitor's bureaus across the nation, will provide you with resources, knowledgeable staffers and support services to help you plan a seamless fam- ily reunion that will leave your clients and family members smiling. For example, the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB offers the following "Tips for a successful reunion:" Begin planning 18-24 months ahead. Designate a lead person who can delegate duties — with a timetable — to get others to commit to the event. Make plans appealing to adults and kids, but be imagina- tive and flexible based on weather, size of group and time constraints. Include an oral history project, which can be a great way to spark conversations across generations and cultural back- grounds, preserve history, and bring relatives closer together. Following is a list of destinations to consider for that fami- ly, school or military reunion that will be your most memo- rable one yet! ATLANTIC CTY, NJ Reunions can be great fun in a city that has something for every taste and interest. Atlantic City is one of the world's favorite destinations and the beach differentiates it from any other gaming locale. Millions of guests stroll, ride a bicycle or tour the more than five-mile-long Boardwalk on a distinctive rolling chair. But Atlantic City is not a one-trick pony. This East Coast hotspot is increasingly becoming known for its thriving culinary scene and world class shopping, as well as for its vibrant arts and culture offerings. Planners will have plenty to choose from when organizing activities for reunion attendees. Everything from the Atlantic City Historical Museum, Atlantic City Ballet, and the Civil Rights Garden for cultural aficionados, to day cruises, sailing, fishing, boat, canoe or kayak rentals, or hitting the links at one of the Strollers on Atlantic City Board Walk AFRICAN AMERICAN REUNIONS MEAN BIG BUCK$ FOR SAVVY MARKETER$ BY RUFUS MCKINNEY

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