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GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE EXPANDS CULTURAL AND HERITAGE TOURISM

GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE EXPANDS CULTURAL AND HERITAGE TOURISM

Black History Month kicks off the awareness and fundraising campaign for Broward County's next big cultural and heritage tourism attraction - a multimillion-dollar tennis training facility and museum that will draw amateur players and enthusiasts of the sport from around the U.S. and the Caribbean to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.

The City of Miramar, FL, in partnership with the American Tennis Association (ATA), the oldest Black sports organization in the U.S., has approved a land lease agreement, which will pave the way for construction of an ATA National Tennis Training Center and ATA Tennis Hall of Fame. The facility will be located in Miramar's Regional Park and will house courts for tournaments, training and education programs for youth, a showcase for information on the history of African Americans in tennis, as well as a hotel for visitors.

The ATA will move its headquarters from Maryland to Miramar, and the ATA Black Tennis Museum and Training Facility will create a major hub for tourism in western Broward County, beyond the beaches.

This is one of the many strides that the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB is making in developing and supporting opportunities for tourism to become an engine for economic development in ethnically-diverse communities. 

According to the American Tennis and Education Foundation (ATEF), the nonprofit fundraising arm of the ATA Black Tennis Museum and Training Facility, the project already sparked interest from the Pan Hellenic Council and is generating support nationally among Black Greeks because of the emphasis on providing sports training and educational resources for Black youth, especially males. Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity has become a partner and will have a room in the Tennis Hall of Fame that will include artifacts and material saluting the late tennis great Arthur Ashe, who was a product of the ATA and a Kappa. 

The Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority is also partnering to support the new facility. Tennis legend Althea Gibson has her tennis roots from the ATA and is a proud member of the AKA sorority.  

"The ATEF project promises to become another major economic generator. It's one more example of the innovative multicultural tourism initiatives the CVB is engaged in that continue to make Greater Fort Lauderdale a 'must see' destination for the multicultural visitor and for community and business partnerships," pointed out Albert Tucker, Vice President for Multicultural Business Development at the GFLCVB. 

African-American travel to Greater Fort Lauderdale has increased 60% in the past six years, due in large part to the cultural tourism and economic development initiatives of the CVB.  According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, culture and heritage tourism has become one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. 

Capitalizing on this national trend, Greater Fort Lauderdale's CVB joins the ranks of multicultural tourism marketing initiatives in such places as Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New Orleans by creating innovative alliances to address specific local needs. The Broward County Board of County Commissioners has gone on record supporting the collaboration for cultural tourism development, calling it a "model initiative" that preserves and promotes heritage and stimulates the economy.

"Culture and history are key drivers that attract visitors to spend more, to stay longer in a destination and to venture off the beaten path for rich, authentic cultural & heritage experiences, and it offers tremendous opportunities for local businesses," says Stephanie M. Jones, Founder & President of the Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism, Inc.

Her group, CHAT, is part of a groundbreaking collaboration with the Broward Cultural Division and the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB formed to help small businesses, artists, and local attractions to become tourism-ready and active participants in the multi-billion dollar tourism industry. In turn, that will attract tourists and dollars to heritage neighborhoods and multicultural communities and will help fuel local economies.

The 2018 Synergy Summit for Cultural & Heritage Tourism is planned for Fort Lauderdale May 16-19, and will bring together a national audience of travel and tourism professionals to share best practices and model cultural & heritage tourism programs that have been implemented around the country with local organizations and businesses that can benefit from their expertise. 

A wide-range of speakers and panelists will include Eugene Franklin, Florida director for the National Black Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC.; Kenneth Lawson, head of VISIT FLORIDA, the state's official tourism marketing agency; Essence Harris Banks, Chairman of the Board for the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network; real estate developer and entrepreneur Miguel Pilgram, the $25 million lottery winner who is helping to revitalize the Historic Sistrunk Corridor neighborhood; and Rosemary Rice McCormick, author and co-founder and president of the U.S. Cultural Tourism Marketing Council

Greater Fort Lauderdale continues to be the destination of choice for conferences of high-profile Black groups. Upcoming conferences and programs include:

  • The Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials Spring Conference will host municipal government leaders for training sessions, networking opportunities, and presentations by guest speakers in Miramar March 15-16.
  • Fort Lauderdale's scenic 17th street Corridor will be decked out in pink and green to salute 8,000 AKAs at the 2018 South Atlantic Regional Conference April 25-29.
  • The 100 Black Men of America will host their 2018 Annual Conference in GFL June 14th - 19th.
  • More than 5,000 members of law enforcement will be in town at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Annual Training Conference, July 28-August 1. 
  • Other upcoming group meetings include the return of the United Negro College Fund, the Shriners group AEAONMS, Inc. Desert Conference and the National Organization of Black State Elected Officials in July.

Cultural events such as Jazz in the Gardens March 17-18 in Miami Gardens, the 24th Annual Unifest Festival May 18-20 in Lauderdale Lakes - the first and oldest Caribbean event in Broward County - and the Women of Color Empowerment Conference September 7-10 continue to lure visitors each year with a changing roster of national and international performers and speakers.

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