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BM&T's Hosted Buyer Program Well Received

Black Meetings & Tourism
partnered with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB) to bring members of the National Policy Alliance (NPA) to a hosted buyer event March 13-17.  NPA attendees were housed at the beautiful Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida where they were treated to luxurious accommodations, spectacular scenery, gourmet meals and world-class service.

The hosted buyer program was planned around several annual South Florida events held during the same timeframe - the 9th Annual Jazz in the Gardens music festival, and the 2014 Women's Impact Conference & Luncheon.  The eight NPA delegates, who represented World Conference of Mayors (WCM), National Bar Association (NBA), National Association of Black County Officials (NABCO), National Organization of Black County Officials (NOBCO), National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO), National Black Caucus of School Board Members (NBCSB) and the NPA itself, participated in two BM&T organized Town Hall Meetings.  The meetings were held at Shula's Hotel & Golf Club in Miami Lakes and included NPA panelists Mayor James Walls (WCM), Judge Denise Langford Morris (Judicial Council, NBA), and Arlanda J. Williams (NABCO).   Other panelists included Al Tucker (GFLCVB), Matt Thomas (San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce), Andy Ingraham (National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers), and Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief.

The first Town Hall Meeting was moderated by BM&T Publishers/Editors Gloria and Solomon Herbert, and focused on two vital subjects - Black Meetings & Tourism's "Stay-A-Day Initiative," and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Stay-A-Day See OUR USA is multi-year initiative created by BM&T to encourage international visitors to the United States as well as domestic visitors to stay an extra day to take in the sites, sounds, culture and experiences of the African-American community.  It is estimated that $367.1 million in revenue would be added to the US economy each day if all international visitors extended their travel experience in this country, and approximately $1.8 billion a day would be generated if all domestic travelers included an additional day in their itineraries.

It's been reported that Florida's Stand Your Ground law has been responsible for the deaths of at least 26 children and teens, including the murder of Trayvon Martin, whose shooting dominated the headlines after he was killed in February of 2012.  The lively discussion with NPA policy makers and local elected officials helped refocus attention on this important issue.

The second Town Hall Meeting was moderated by Miami Herald Editorial Page Editor Nancy Ancrum, and addressed the topic "Building Jobs & Entrepreneurial Opportunities Through Tourism Initiatives."

NPA attendees also participated in a Fort Lauderdale city tour, which took in top points of interest like the African American Research Library and Cultural Center.  And of course, they attended two days of musical offerings at Jazz in the Gardens.  The NPA delegates were part of the 68,000 festival goers who attended the popular event, which was held in Miami Gardens' Sun Life Stadium.

Fans from all across the nation and abroad, danced in aisles to performances from LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Trey Songz, Kelly Rowland, Mint Condition, Anthony Hamilton, Stanley Clarke, Rachelle Farrell and Boney James. The festival was hosted by comedian, actor, author, political commentator and syndicated radio host D.L. Hughley.

Without a doubt, this hosted buyer program was a win-win situation for all concerned.  NPA members were royally treated by Tucker, his GFLCVB team and the Westin staff.  Not only did they have fun, they also had an opportunity to learn about Fort Lauderdale, and to engage in meaningful dialogue with local officials about issues of relevance to their own constituents back home.  Additionally, each attendee interfaced with program sponsors, discussed potential future meeting business and submitted an RFP. 

Based on the success of this event, Black Meetings & Tourism and the Fort Lauderdale CVB are already exploring the possibility of another "Jazz in the Gardens" hosted buyer program partnership for 2015.  BM&T is also in discussions with eight other destinations about bringing NPA members to hosted buyer events in their cities.

For more information call Victoria Head or Gloria Herbert at (818) 709-0646.