Albert Tucker, vice-president of Multi-Cultural Tourism at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been a big advocate for Black economic empowerment through promoting Black tourism for many years.
(Photo by David Muir)
By Charles Moseley
As far back as the early 1960’s, tourism in Fort Lauderdale was synonymous with College Spring Break, made even more popular by the classic film about a group of white co-eds’ experience in, Where the Boys Are. Flash forward to the mid to late 1980’s and an interesting transformation began to emerge regarding the tourism landscape here in Fort Lauderdale.
Local government and local businesses who once welcomed or at least tolerated college spring breaks, which attracted tens of thousands of college students to Fort Lauderdale Beach annually, began a major shift toward changing the image of tourism in Fort Lauderdale. Therein began a rebranding process by local public officials and business leaders aimed at attracting more corporate as well as family oriented, tourism to Broward County.
This phenomenon did not escape the attention of the minority business community or Black governmental officials. Black real estate developer R. Donahue Peeples’ seized upon the opportunity to bring the first Black owned major hotel to Fort Lauderdale Beach; however, it failed after several years in the making.
Undaunted by this earlier failed experiment by Peeples to test the willingness by governmental officials and the tourism powers that be, to indulge in the emerging world of multi-cultural tourism; a New York transplant by way of Washington, D.C., by the name of Albert Tucker representing the prestigious American Tennis Association (ATA), had successfully helped bring one of the country’s leading Black sports organization’s for their annual championship events to Fort Lauderdale in 1997 and 1998. He later was instrumental in bringing the ATA Championships again to Fort Lauderdale again in 2012 and 2013, but this time in the official role as Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (GFLCVB) Vice-President of Multi-Cultural Marketing.
In 1997, 1998, and again in 2012, 2013 the ATA hosted four successful national champion-ship events in Fort Lauderdale. In the late 90’s the event was noted that the economic impact exceeded more than $2.5 million, whereas on both occasions more than 2,500 participants were in the South Florida area to participate in matches at various tennis facilities within Fort Lauderdale. In 2012, the event had grown with over 3,000 amateur adult and youth tennis players and their families in attendance. The growth of the event has also seen the economic impact more than double since the event was held in Fort Lauderdale in 1998.
Yes the ATA has had a very rich & rewarding experience in Fort Lauderdale. The city is enjoyed by both children & adults with its accommodations & culturally sensitive nature.
“We are proud to have selected Fort Lauderdale as our permanent home,” said Dr. Franklyn Scott, ATA president.
Armed with the experience of living in New York City and Washington D.C., Tucker witnessed firsthand the economic impact that African American tourism, had on both city’s local economy. He began doing some research in the area and created a Multi-Cultural Tourism Action Plan, which he submitted before the GFLCVB’s top brass, which was ultimately embraced by the GFLCVB. The rest, of course, is history. Major strides and major dollars began being generated in the area of multi-cultural tourism throughout the U.S., and due to the efforts of Tucker, the GFLCVB, and other dedicated people here in Broward, a commitment toward increasing economic empowerment in the African American community began to gain momentum.
Tucker outlined the direction, objectives, and goals of building a comprehensive approach at generating tourism from a multi-cultural perspective which focused on an ever emerging and diverse Black consumer travel market, as outlined in the proposal before the GFLCBB.
“The primary objective of this plan is to attract a larger proportion of African American and other multicultural populations to choose Fort Lauderdale, and the surrounding areas, as the destination of choice for their vacations and conventions. Through the development of strategic partnerships, we anticipate that this plan will attract more than 5,000 new vacationers to Fort Lauderdale in its inaugural year. This plan focuses on implementing marketing strategies that are designed to increase Fort Lauderdale’s visibility in the multicultural market. Again, our primary strategy is to develop a series of premier Sports and Leisure, Entertainment and Convention activities for the county that will attract travelers to Fort Lauderdale.”
100 Black Men of Greater Fort Lauderdale President and owner of Simply-It Inc., a computer network design company, Dennis Wright, has worked over the years to bring a greater awareness of the value of Black tourism, to the local business community as well as the public sector.
“One of the key components of improving our communities is sustainable economic development. Black tourism is serving as a catalyst for sustainable economic development here in Broward County. Travel and leisure companies have long recognized that Black tourism dollars are viable to their growth and rightfully so, Broward County with all it has to offer, should look to market itself as a destination rich in culture and diversity. Through the outstanding efforts of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Broward County has begun to realize the value of Black tourism,” said Wright.