[image-1]Last year, Charleston welcomed more than 5 million visitors to the area, generating over $3.7 billion. And with tourists flooding into the area to experience all that Charleston has to offer, it’s vital to remember that much of the history that draws visitors year after year is deeply rooted in the African-American experience and culture. In an effort to spread awareness about the economic impact of African-American tourism and the development of this niche in the local industry, the 2016 African-American Tourism Conference will be held Oct. 1 at the College of Charleston’s Beatty Center downtown.

Beginning with an opening performance by the Wona Womalan West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, this year’s conference will feature a roundtable discussion on the potential of African-American tourism, advice on marketing to African-American visitors, as well as lessons on resource development for entrepreneurs. Representatives from the Spoleto USA Festival will also lead a session providing insight and advice on what goes in to running a successful event.

Offering a national perspective on multicultural tourism will be keynote speaker Andy Ingraham, president of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD). Growing up in the Bahamas, Ingraham began his career in the tourism industry in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. An appointee to the 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism, Ingraham has worked to foster healthy growth and development for African-American entrepreneurs throughout the tourism industry.

“More business at black-owned hotels results in more hires and more corporate promotions of other African-Americans working within the establishment, who can eventually become executives or owners,” Ingraham told Black Enterprise magazine when NABHOOD partnered with U.S. Black Chambers to boost spending among African-American travelers. “More business also means that hotels have to buy more goods from suppliers, and can choose to patronize other black-owned businesses in the process.”

Those hoping to register for this year’s conference can do so online here.