African- American Tourism Conference: Economic Impact
What can get African- American residents from cash strapped but historic communities and officials from the tourism industry, both engaged in the discussion of African American Tourism? Billions of dollars of economic impact! More is always better and Tourism Industry officials are always looking for strategies to increase the number of visitors to South Carolina, and the development of the African- American niche is one such strategy with promise. The charleston visitor economy generates $27 Billion dollars in gross sales within the tri-county area. The African- American niche of this sector can add millions of additional visitors coming to this state and thus increase the industry’s economic impact on the state. The potential is there, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the nation, because in Charleston, and South Carolina we are rich in spiritual, cultural, and entrepreneurial traditions. This potential has been stifled by the failure of local and state governments and regional visitor bureaus to collaborate, and strategize with African- American businesses, and non- profits concerning this niche. The process of removing this obstacle begins with the convening of the annual African- American Tourism Conferences, whose goals are to 1) Educate residents & tourism industry officials about the benefits of investing into the development of this niche, and 2) strategize on the future growth and development of this niche of the industry.
Millions of New Visitors Means More Money for Everyone!
African-American tourists are responsible for a whopping $2.4 billion in economic impact for South Carolina. That is just one of the findings from a study recently completed by USC’s SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism in partnership with JC & Associates. The study, jointly funded by the Center and SCPRT, also found significant potential to grow this segment, along with high interest from travelers of all races outside of the state wanting to explore our African-American cultural experiences. For example, a 5% increase in visitors interested in this niche would produce an impact of $118 Million.
Overall, South Carolina has a 5% share of the U.S. African-American travel market, ranking 13th among the 50 states, but it lags behind other Southern States in successfully developing this market. According to the US Travel Data center, more than half of the 33.1 million African-Americans in the U.S. live in Southern states, and are much more likely to travel in the region (63%), compared to travelers overall (39%). We can draw more visitors and their dollars with the enticement of this niche, but first we must invest attention and resources as local and state governments, and regional visitor bureaus.