By Barney Blakeney
The Wando-Huger Community Development Corporation September 29 will present at the Beatty Center on the College of Charleston campus the sixth annual African American Tourism Conference. The conference will focus on the $2.4 billion dollar African-American sector of the tourism industry in South Carolina. As in previous years, the conference’s goal is to promote the increase of African American business participation in that industry. Kwadjo Campbell, a principle partner in JC& Assc., LLC, facilitators for the conference, said this year’s conference will explore ideas and activities that expand the sphere of initiatives beyond the Metropolitan Charleston area.
“Over the past five years the goal has been to grow public policies that put resources into our communities. We’re now seeing some fruit from the University of South Carolina impact study done two years ago that revealed a $2.4 billion economic impact from African American tourism in the state,” Campbell said. “We’re working with legislators to take the next step. This year’s conference will be relative to what’s happening around the state and Southeast region and how what we’re doing can be duplicated in countries such as Nigeria which is sending a representative to the conference.”
Registration for the day-long conference begins 8 a.m. at the Beatty Center located 5 Liberty Street with early bird registration costing only $50. The Opening session begins at 9 a.m. The conference’s aim is to: 1) inform tourism industry officials about the benefits of supporting and promoting the African-American sector of the industry through public policy; 2) educate residents from historically disadvantaged communities about the resources available to them for businesses and non-profits servicing this industry; 3) strategize on the future and growth of the African-American sector of the tourism industry focusing on the goals and objectives set at the annual Think Tank.
Various sessions will be conducted to achieve those aims. They include: a keynote address by Dr. Kevin So, Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development “$2.4 Billion Impact on SC: What’s Next?”; Regional Approach Tourism with presenters Michelle Mapp, Moderator/ Heather Hodges, Gullah Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission/ Jannie Harriot, SC African American Heritage Commission/ Jeanne Cyriaque, Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network and Angela Thorpe, N.C. African-American Heritage Commission; Current Projects around the State; sessions on resource development for non-profits, entrepreneurs, special events, festivals, and cultural events; South Carolina’s Reconstruction Era Monument; and Black travel movement.
Highlights for the conference include Gullah Geechee-themed tours and a networking Reception at Waterfront Art Gallery featuring Afrobeats music, African-American artwork and spoken word/poetry. Conference participants will be grouped with industry professionals to discuss opportunities for growth. Campbell promises the conference will be an explosive day of strategy, collaboration, and synergy as some of the industry’s movers and shakers meld with stake holders from African American tourism to create a platform that will reap South Carolina economic benefits for years to come.
The conference is collaboration between the Wando-Huger CDC, JC& Assc., LLC and the College of Charleston. Charleston County is this year’s Title Sponsor. JC & Associates is the coordinator.