South Florida is among the top travel destinations among Black travelers
The National Urban League will hold its annual national conference in Fort Lauderdale this summer. National Urban League President Marc Morial Jr.
Four major American Tennis Association Championships have been held in Broward County including 1997 & 1998, and in 2013 & 2014, bringing thousands of Black tourists to Broward and generating millions in tourism dollars, to Broward County’s local economy. (Photos by David Muir)
By Charles Moseley
As a Black Baby Boomer growing up here in South Florida during the 1960’s, the face of tourism was far from that of Black people. Finding a needle in a haystack was more likely than finding a Black face amongst the crowd in any media marketing travel campaign. It was clear that the slogan “come on down” to sunny Fort Lauderdale was not directed at Black folks. It may sound cliché but today, things have changed considerably in the travel industry. In fact the rate of travel among Black people is on par with that of the industry standard.
Black people don’t travel much: The Myth.
“I think the biggest myth was that Black people don’t travel much. A BIGGER surprise was that Black people are among the largest group of travelers. The issue was more where we go when we travel and how we travel. Studies showed that most travel by car so — no one in the air/cruise industry –, who lead the studies’ data, had a record. Secondly, they primarily traveled to family functions and organizational conventions. The destinations were repetitive in that they rotated among the locations of the group leaders etc.”
“In recent years, various organizations such as Meeting Makers Groups and Travel agencies and Convention and Visitors Bureaus took research and showed that if appealed to and marketed to aggressively that pattern could change. Thus we are seeing a dramatic change in the pattern. Another factor has been the change in local cities and towns on their targeted audiences. As an example less emphasis on fun and frolic and more on family, cultural and diverse markets to include, older traveler, LGTB and Blacks,” said Meredith McCleary, a 20-year veteran in the local travel industry.
This all began to change on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement which promoted greater access to public accommodations for Blacks and other minorities, over the next 20 years.
Finally due to the efforts of local government officials and Black business leaders promoting Broward as a great destination for Black organizations, progress was made.
“While the NFBPA (National Forum of Black Public Administrators), as an organization, was pivotal in fostering the concept of South Florida becoming a great place to promote Black Tourism, it also created a “fraternity” of professionals that saw a need to support each other in our tasks of delivering on our jobs. The upshot of this national meeting could be seen as the beginning of bringing other primarily Black organizations to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.
Since the NFBPA, there has been a plethora of Black organization coming to enjoy the offerings of our area. As you know, on the horizon, the National Urban League is planning its meeting here and I think that speaks volumes for us,” stated Lauderhill City Councilman Hayward Benson, Jr.
Albert Tucker, Vice-President of Multi-Cultural Tourism at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has been champion the cause of Black Tourism over the past several decades. Because of his efforts and those of local government in cooperation among Black business leaders and Black civic and social organizations, Broward County has attracted a number of high profile national conferences to the area.
“There has been significant positive movement towards our community being more engaged in the tourism initiatives and the economic impact. We have to be more strategic in understanding that economic empowerment and working smarter to work together to continue to grow the base,” said Tucker.
“Based upon our 2014 figures Tourism generates more than $12.6 billion in visitor spending. With the Multicultural market being about 10 percent I would say that we generate about 10 percent of $12.6 billion,” added Tucker.
Based on travel figures released by Blackchicontour.com Blog Black Chic on Tour: “Adventures of a Travel Addict,” stated travel blogger Terri.
“I created this info graphic from a study that was conducted by Mandala Research in 2011 to break down the basic statistics for African American Leisure Travelers and their travel habits. I found the report informative, and educational. I, as a well traveled Black traveler, was surprised at how many of us are hitting the road.”
“For example, I didn’t know that 13 percent of African American leisure travelers take more than six trips per year. Or, that African Americans spend an average of $886 as compared to the total leisure traveler population total of $909. This breaks it down. I hope you find it as informative as I did.”
According to that same study more than 40 percent of African American travelers in the Silent/GI Generations-Go to church, gamble, take a scenic drive, go to a fine dining restaurant, and participate in night life. Roughly 1/3 of these mature travelers visit Historic sites, Beaches, Experience local cuisine, attend a festival, go to hear live music performed at such venues as,. “Jazz in the Gardens” in Miami Gardens, Florida, The Essence Music Festival held annually in New Orleans, and national radio personality Tom Joyner’s Fantastic Voyage, which cruises throughout the Caribbean.
Generation X travelers take more weekend getaway trips, while only 5 percent take trips as part of a church organization. Among African American travelers the most popular states by region are Florida in the South, California in the -West, New York in the Northeast, and Illinois in the Mid-west. Of those Blacks who travel, 59 percent were female and 41 percent were male.