Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB official predicts bright future for multi-cultural tourism in South Florida
The Deltas and Omegas unite to “Party with a Purpose” at the Winterfest Boat Parade, in partnership with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
(Photos by David Muir)
By Charles Moseley
Over the last several decades there have been differing circumstances which contributed to the rise in multi-cultural travel, as African Americans have become more upwardly mobile. The Civil Rights Movement created greater access for a number of African Americans to higher education, greater employment opportunities, and an expansion of the economic base among African Americans across the United States. As these gains were made there has been a direct correlation to the economic boom in the travel industry due in part to an increase in Black travel.
South Florida’s travel industry has directly benefited from the surge in travel among African Americans and stepped up its efforts to attract people of color to have some fun in the sun, whether they’re here to conduct business, simply have some fun in the sun, or both.
In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of Black organizations which have held their national conferences here in Broward County. Some of those organizations include: 100 Black Men of America, Inc., American Tennis Association, and the National Urban League, which is scheduled to convene in Fort Lauderdale this July 29-Aug. 1, 2015.
The Urban League conference is expected to attract 10,000 participants and projected to generate between eight and 10 million dollars, into the local economy.
Locally, the term multi-cultural tourism began to take flight and gain momentum over the past decade due in part to the efforts of Albert Tucker, vice-president of Multi-Cultural Tourism, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB). Tucker points to several factors for these developments.
“The Greater Fort Lauderdale community has become much more sophisticated to understand the value and economic impact of the revenue generated by tourism. With every 85 visitors it creates a job in the hospitality industry and that is why Broward County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Many of our Divine Nine members, along with our other civic organizations have become CVB partners/ambassadors to attract conferences and family reunions to the destination. While progress has been made we need to educate our community more on how we can have tour-ism impact our community in a greater way. From the inception of the program I would say that multicultural tourism has grown more than 40 percent.”
He also credited the support among community leaders, social, civic organizations and businesses for the role that they have played in the emergence of multi-cultural tourism locally.
“The key players, in support of the GFLCVB have been presidents and leaders of our key Black organizations such as Urban League of Broward CEO Dr. Germaine Smith Baugh, 100 Black Men of Greater Fort Lauderdale President Dennis Wright, State Representative Bobby DuBose, and Rigo Garcia, President of the local Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., along with members of the AKA’s, and Delta’s organizations,” added Tucker.
Part of Tucker’s approach to increase business as well as cultural awareness around the African American community has been to expose the cultural diversity which exists in South Florida. There are a number of events as well as locations with-in the Black community such as the Sistrunk Corridor, African American Research Library & Cultural Arts Center, Old Dillard Museum, and Mid-Town Business Center, which have been the focus of many events promoted by the GFLCVB.
In addition, Tucker garnered the support of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. to partner with the GFLCVB to participate in the Winterfest Boat Show Parade.
“South Broward Alumnae likes to think outside of the box and made an impact, because never in the 42-year history of the Winterfest Boat Parade has an African American non-profit ever participated in this event. The cultural community impact of partaking in the boat parade was unprecedented. To see your Greek letters in lights sailing down the intercoastal waterway on a yacht was magical. It is rare where local chapters get the opportunity to obtain such exposure. Having our newly elected National President, Dr. Paulette C. Walker and our Southern Regional Director Cheryl W. Turner, on the yacht added to the phenomenal experience.
“Our chapter approached Tucker, Vice President of Multi-Cultural Development at the Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and he saw the same vision of promoting the Winterfest Boat parade as a vehicle to bring African American dollars to vacation and celebrate in South Florida, which in turns stimulates economic development in Broward County,” said Cassandra E. Joseph, Chapter president Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. South Broward Alumnae Chapter.
“As a Black business owner and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., I think it’s important for us to help promote multi-cultural tourist because it makes good business sense. Let’s face it, the more people that decide to make Fort Lauderdale their vacation destination, the more opportunity I have for additional business. It doesn’t matter what color they are, all the money is the same. I personally believe that when Black people travel, they want to support Black businesses. I also think that they are more likely to visit a Black business that they know is supporting Black tourism. “It’s important for me to let Al Tucker and the CVB know that we believe in what they’re doing and we want to be a part of the growth. As a business, the best way we can do that is to support their events through sponsorship,” said Harry Harrell, co-owner Tom Jenkins Bar-B-Q.