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Industry Briefs
2012 Proclaimed "Year Of African-American Heritage Tourism"
Black Meetings & Tourism (BM&T), in collaboration with Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC), has proclaimed 2012 as the “Year of African-American Heritage Tourism.” The announcement was made in response to the most pronounced interest in African-American history and culture since 1977, when Alex Haley’s classic “Roots,” and the mini series it spawned, created a wave of interest in travel back to Africa and genealogical exploration by many in the Black community.

“This growing interest in our heritage as a people is nothing new,” explains Gloria M. Herbert, BM&T associate publisher and editor. “But with recent developments, such as TPOC’s Heritage Tourism Certification Program, the ongoing popularity of the annual African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference, and efforts by destinations like Miami, St. Martin, Philadelphia, Birmingham, the Dominican Republic and Columbia, SC to establish and or further develop or promote heritage trails, the time could not be more appropriate for us to proclaim 2012 the Year of African-American Heritage Tourism,” she said.

According to the 2011 African-American Travel Report, produced by Mandala Research (, a recent study shows 44% of African-Americans surveyed visited a heritage site or museum and/or attended a cultural event during their last travel experience.

TPOC, which is gearing up for its 10th Anniversary Conference next year, has certified three destinations so far – Detroit, Trinidad & Tobago, and Buffalo, NY – with others in the pipeline. The organization also certifies travel agents and tour operators as Heritage Tourism Specialists after a thorough vetting and training process. A number of international destinations, including Barbados, United States Virgin Islands, and two popular Canadian hotspots – Toronto and Windsor – have stepped up their efforts to target African-American travelers, allocating marketing dollars to penetrate this niche. Still others, like Ghana and South Africa, have expressed a strong interest in reaching out to this lucrative segment as well.

In concert with this mushrooming interest in heritage tourism, Black Meetings & Tourism is reintroducing a column from years gone by – “Historically Speaking,” with the new tag line “On the Heritage Trail” – which will explore heritage tourism products both domestically and internationally for the planners, travel agents and tour operators in their audience. “The purpose of this proclamation,” explains BM&T Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Solomon J. Herbert, “is to encourage African-Americans to learn more about their history and culture through travel. And not just travel within the borders of the US, but travel throughout the Diaspora. In my opinion,” he adds, “this can only help to revitalize the overall travel industry, and allow us to contribute to creating jobs and stimulating the nation’s economy, as well as exposing travelers worldwide, to the enormous cultural impact that people of African descent have made across the globe.

Based on the early positive feedback and the growing international attention to the 50th year anniversary of the US Civil Rights Freedom Riders, the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC and the upcoming 150th year commemoration of the Civil War, consideration is being given to extending the “Year of African-American Heritage Tourism” through 2013, which would mark the 50th year celebration of the Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

Throughout 2012 check the Year of African-American Heritage Tourism section on the website for updates regarding pertinent events, activities, travel experiences, special projects and promotions.

For more information about “2012 Proclaimed the Year of African-American Heritage Tourism,” contact Victoria Head, (818) 709-0646, or

About Black Meetings & Tourism magazine:

Publishing since 1994, BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM is the exclusive, African- American owned, awarding-winning, international, trade publication for and about the $56 billion plus African-American meetings, incentives, leisure and group travel market.

About Travel Professionals Of Color (TPOC):
Travel Professionals of Color is an international organization that promotes education, networking and support of minority travel professionals. This organization provides quality training to help travel specialists effectively reach the multicultural minority travel community.

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