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JACKSONVILLE’S CULTURAL TOURISM WORKSHOP BIG SUCCESS
BY JOHN H. WYCHE, MBA

The Jacksonville Black Chamber of Commerce presented its First Cultural Tourism workshop on Saturday, April 8, 2017 in sunny Jacksonville, Florida.  The workshop presenters were Andy Ingraham, president/CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD), and Eugene Franklin, president & CEO, Florida Black Chamber of Commerce and director, National Cultural Heritage Tourism Initiative. Our presenters showed us how we can take advantage of opportunities presented by Jacksonville's influx of tourists, and share in the boosting our local economy.  MORE THAN JUST HOTELS! When visitors come to Jacksonville they shop, eat, and play, and this means that our community needs to step up and make sure our Businesses, History, and Culture are available for tourists.  We must not let Jacksonville become a great destination without engaging the BLACK BUSINESS COMMUNITY.

Ingraham started the workshop off by stating the inter connective of that is Cultural Tourism.  He used Jacksonville native son James Weldon Johnson as a perfect example of the "Bahamian connection to Jacksonville."  Of course Mr. Johnson is best known as the author of what we call the "Negro National Anthem."   Ingraham also spent some time making sure the attendees knew certain definitions like: What is the definition of cultural tourism?

 

Cultural Tourism (or  culture tourism) is the subset of  tourism concerned with a country or region's  culture, specifically the lifestyle of the people in those geographical areas, the history of those people, their art, architecture, religion(s), and other elements that helped shape their way of life.

What is cultural and heritage tourism?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States defines heritage tourism as "traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past," and " heritage tourism can include  cultural, historic and natural resources."

Why is it important to have tourism?

Tourism has become an  important sector that has an impact on development of country economy. The main benefits of  tourism are income creation and generation of jobs. For many regions and countries it is the most  important source of welfare.

"Culture is one of the most important levers to pull in order to rehabilitate and re-launch an economy; It also provides direction."  
Aminata Traorẻ

Ingraham also talked about the economic importance of tourism in Florida (#1 in terms of economic impact) and the national and inter-national value of tourism.  He stated that "Overtown (a historically impoverished African Diaspora community in metropolitan Miami) is one of the fastest growing areas in Florida."  Overtown has historically significance and the preservation of its important sites is on-going.

Ingraham said that NABHOOD (which started as an idea in 1999) had one of their first meetings in Jacksonville.  Other topics of discussion included:

  • African-Americans spent $50 Billion on travel in 2016
  • The importance of "Green Book" locations in Jacksonville during the Jim Crow Era
  • The importance of politics and hotel development and its impact on African American developers like NABHOOD Board Member Mr. Norman Jenkins (Washington D.C. Hotel Developer)
  • Monetizing History so it can be preserved
  • Payback-Pay It Forward with NABHOOD's High School Program to ensure future hotel owners, operators and managers get the benefit of NABHOOD members background and expertise

Ingraham ended his presentation with a request that all attendees book hotel stays by going to www.NABHOOD.COM

Our next presenter for the morning was Eugene Franklin, who opened up his presentation with a BIG number: "$90 BILLION!  That's the size of the Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Market."  Gene said, "there were two main entities he was initially focused on, Chamber of Commerce & Tourism."  He also stated that he is now laser focused on executing a system he's developed over many years that monetizes cultural tourism in what he calls, "Forgotten Communities."  As the President & CEO of Florida Black Chambers of Commerce he has "tied Cultural Tourism to the business model of Florida's Black Chambers."

Quick Facts:

Tourist visiting Miami spent an average of $279.48 a day and stayed an average of 5.86 nights. With total spending averaging $1,637.75 per person per visit, tourists spent an estimated $23.8 billion while visiting Miami, the majority spent on shopping and lodging.

When compared to other hotel markets around the world, Miami fared fifth in the country in terms of occupancy throughout the year, with a 78.3% occupancy rate - at least 10% greater than the state and national average.

Cultural history excursions like Miami's Black History Tours and  Miami's Cultural Community Tours are becoming increasingly popular, as visitors seek to engage with the local community, according to  Cultural Tourism in the "Tropical Playground": Issues of Exclusion and Development in Miami  .

 

Did you know about:

The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida, in the south. The National Heritage Area includes roughly 80 barrier islands and continues inland to adjacent coastal counties, defining a region 30 miles inland throughout the United States Low Country.

Jacksonville is in the top five cities in the region in occupancy rates at hotels. In the first quarter of this year, according to Smith Travel Research, which tracks hotel data, Jacksonville had a 2.7 percent increase in the occupancy rate. That's a jump over the 1.8 percent increase for all of 2015.

The shift in one year for growth rate of hotel occupancy was a large jump for Jacksonville. In 2015, for the full year, Jacksonville was ranked 15th in the Southeast.

That means Jacksonville has been outdone only by Columbia, S.C., which had the highest regional occupancy growth rate, Memphis, Tenn., Daytona Beach and Nashville, Tenn., respectively. Jacksonville also topped the Florida tourist growth rates of Orlando, Miami and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

Hotel occupancy jumped to 73.2 percent for the 17,949 rooms in Jacksonville in the first three months of this year. While that rate of growth is important, the actual occupancy rate for the first quarter for Jacksonville is higher than Daytona Beach, Amelia Island, St. Johns County, Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Savannah, Ga. and Charlotte, N.C.

Jacksonville is getting much more profitable for hoteliers with average daily hotel rate increases recently of 6.3 percent to $86.08, that's the fifth highest increase in the Southeast. Jacksonville also had a 9.2 percent increase in the revenue generated by each room rented, coming in at $63.02 per room, placing the city in the top three behind Columbia and Daytona Beach.

The revenue generated provides contributions to the local bed tax, which is 6 cents on the dollar locally. Funds from the bed tax are distributed in many ways, mainly for upkeep of facilities, such as arenas and stadiums, which attract visitors, but also for helping to draw more tourists.

Visit Jacksonville's own research shows that 28 percent of people who are visiting the area are responding directly to marketing campaigns. And that's where there's a key difference.

Visit Florida looks at Jacksonville as an emerging market that's vital to its goal of growing tourism to a 100 million visitors and beyond business, focused on destination diversity.  Destination diversity sounds a lot like "Cultural Tourism."  Visit Florida understand they can't push everybody through the two main gateways of Miami and Orlando.

Franklin ended his presentation by identifying key areas of focus and opportunity:

  • Identify Blighted Properties and make sure they are not historical gems
  • List Jacksonville's Historic landmarks , neighborhoods…
  • Understand "your culture produces wealth, while history preserves it"
  • Remember what Booker T. Washington said, "If we just build our businesses and only do business with each other we will prosper"
  • We are the only people not making money off our culture
  • Watch for the rollout of African Network Television in June 2017
  • This movement is not about race its about culture
  • Gene ended the workshop by challenging the attendees to, "Join the movement!"

John Wyche is director, Business Development, for the Jacksonville Black Chamber of Commerce.


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