NATIONAL CULTURAL HERITAGE INITIATIVE
The NATIONAL CULTURAL HERITAGE INITIATIVE was initiated as a catalyst for the development of the Culture and Heritage tourism market sector that services International travelers and Americans of African Descent. The National Cultural Heritage Initiative was developed by the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce.
CULTURAL HERITAGE TOURISM
In many states and countries, tourism is the number one industry. In almost all countries and states, tourism is a major contributor to economic viability. Tourism has associated with it, millions of jobs and an untold number of businesses. Tourism is an economic engine that is a generator for business growth and relocation. Most minority businesses can benefit from the cultural needs of business and tourist travelers.
Unfortunately, there is no marketing infrastructure in place to support people of color in their search for ethnic products and services. Minority businesses are dependent on mainstream marketing, advertisement and promotional mediums have proven to be ineffective and too costly. This has created a cultural informational void. Business and tourism travelers are not aware of the products, services and special events cultural and minority businesses and communities have available; and communities, their cultural attractions, and most importantly, our minority businesses suffer, and remain invisible to the mainstream market. To address these and other problem areas, the National Cultural Heritage Tourism Center developed the following objectives:
NATIONAL CULTURAL HERITAGE INITIATIAVE OBJECTIVES
°To market cultural heritage destinations, in support of our culture and heritage; nationally and internationally.
°Establish a marketing and support network throughout the U.S. and in support of the Black Diaspora; in the U.S., Caribbean, Africa, Latin America and Europe.
°To actively engage in promotion and advertising activities in support of Cultural Heritage Tourism Development.
°To support the arts, entertainment, tourism and hospitality industry, by providing advertisement targeting the cultural heritage traveler.
°To support tourism, by providing cultural and historical information in support of Black Conferences, Family Reunions, and Conventions.
* …And ultimately; to encourage Black radio, newspapers and other media entities to join us in our promotion and marketing of our culture as equal partners.
Florida: “We are Pan African-American!”
Florida was chosen for development because of the state’s ‘Multi-Cultural and Ethnic Diversity’. Florida’s population is a rich cultural mixture of residents with diverse African Heritage, composed of multiple national and ethnic backgrounds. Florida truly represents the ‘World’ in its makeup and history. The state is not just Old South, Beaches, and Theme Parks, but has a population that is European, Latin American, Hispanic, Caribbean, African, and Asian ancestry and culture. ‘All’ are “Proud Americans”, with one common bond, an appreciation of their individual heritages and cultures, intertwined with an appreciation for the international influence and with a flavor that is unique, but -Afro-Centric in its appearance. The uniqueness has proven to be a major contributor and economic bonus to the state’s tourism industry; and has allowed Florida to become one of the top tourism destinations in the world due to the successful marketing of its cultural diversity, including the diverse Afro-Centric cultures.
Unfortunately, still too little is known about American Black Heritage and Culture. Although, several cities and states, including the States of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, have endeavored to correct this oversight, by publishing and marketing several critically acclaimed publications, including the Florida Black Heritage Trail publication. But there has never been an organized attempt to market and showcase the African American and Black Culture as a platform to the world, most importantly, to the Global Black Diaspora. The National Cultural Heritage Initiative’s primary goal is to answer age-old cultural questions of Black travelers to unknown cities, “Where are the Black Folks?” and “Where to GO?” This led to the development of the National Cultural Heritage Tourism Center and the research component, the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute.
An additional task assigned to the National Cultural Heritage Institute and the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute was to develop a concept that focused on building sustainable communities, using cultural heritage tourism and the arts, with a directive that an e-commerce infrastructure and network be created to market and promote local minority owned businesses, at an affordable price to the huge global travel market. The system/network, conceptually must assist in increasing the visibility of participating businesses and guarantee an increase in their customer base and profit. This increase would come from business travelers and tourists seeking their service via the internet.
To accomplish this, the Florida Black Chamber led the development of a marketing network and distribution system that insures the widest possible dissemination of information and advertisement through the creation of Pan African Cultural Heritage Alliance, an e-commerce marketing system, in partnership with major tourism and marketing agencies. The Florida Black Chamber created the National Cultural Heritage Tourism Center, Inc., the Pan African Cultural Heritage Institute, Inc., the Pan African American Cultural Heritage Market Place, the National Black Tourism Marketing Corporation, and partnered with the National Black Business Support Corporation, ONYX Magazine, African Television Network, and the Collective Empowerment Group.
Note, it is understood that cultural heritage tourism development entails much more than development of the arts and handicrafts for tourists. Cultural heritage tourism must be founded on individual development through recognizable patterns expressed by what is produced, what is shared, and what is communicated. Such a perspective necessitates the involvement of the entire community, to be successful. Nevertheless, cultural heritage tourism is perhaps the quickest and most effective means of generating wealth in those communities that are individually rich and organizationally poor.
The New World Marketplace
The new marketplace is said to be knowledge-based. Some have said it is both knowledge-based and information-based. Those regions exist in the U.S. and across the Diaspora; and countless research proves the need, the viability and merit of this endeavor. There are millions of African American businesses and countless Black communities that have been neglected. Yet, in terms of cultural heritage tourism products and services, there is a definite lack of involvement by African Americans. Studies indicate that African Americans have much to offer culturally, but they lack the organizational infrastructure to develop this resource properly.
To understand the value of cultural heritage tourism, it is important to understand that African Americans, Whites, Hispanics, etc., are all ethnic groups. They all use culture to develop the patterns we distinguish as ethnic. All ethnic groups have in common the desire to develop as individuals through organization into community. This is the process that creates the cultural patterns that identify them as an ethnic group. It is the basis of culture everywhere. Faith beliefs are also an indicator.
One of the greatest economic resources America, Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe have that could be mutually beneficial, is cultural heritage tourism. The ability to create, package and sell these constructive human experiences determines the success of cultural heritage tourism. As it relates to The National Cultural Heritage Initiative, this activity should not prove too difficult, because it is the same activity we call individual, organizational and community development. Cultural Heritage Tourism involves community residents creating, packaging and selling products and services, relevant to their individual, organizational and community development, so that their guests and visitors may discover finer, grander and more enjoyable concepts of their customs and traditions. Thus, the National Cultural Heritage Initiative’s focus is community-based tourism; forming cultural tourism cooperatives among community members to generate and spread wealth as rapidly as possible
The following provides general descriptions of services to be performed by the Pan African Alliance in support of the National Cultural Heritage and the Pan African Cultural Heritage Initiative:
1. Inventory of historic and cultural business and sites for public marketing by linking websites and publishing diversity sensitive advertisement, as it relates to each state and country targeted for promotion
2. Identifying culturally important venues to promote community based tourism
3. Planning -conceiving the cultural tourism vision, objectives and actions with high levels of buy-in from tourism industry stakeholders
4. Establishing an organizational system to market ongoing revitalization efforts
5. Ensuring the organization secures the commitment of the key groups and organizations that might be involved in the revitalization efforts
6. Fostering the environment to allow open dialogue among tourism industry stakeholders at the national and international level
7. Creating strategic public/private partnerships for project implementation
8. Committing to principles of economic and social development, and historic preservation
9. Researching market needs and assessing state community based tourism activities and services
10. Assessing the willingness of tourism operators to partner
11. Supportive national and regional policies,
12. Reinvestment of tourism revenues into conservation,
13. Equitable distribution of tourism benefits and opportunities,
14. Organizational capacity building and skill-based training,
15. Awareness-raising of all stakeholders,
16. Accessing sources of stable and sustainable local, regional, national and international funding, grants, loans, trust funds and investments, and micro-enterprises to assist community based tourism partners
17. Connecting the African Diaspora via a relationship of cooperation in support of Cultural Heritage Tourism development, marketing, advertisement, promotion, and sales.
The Pan African Cultural Heritage Initiative
The National Cultural Heritage Initiative development effort clearly illustrated the need to reach out and connect with like-minded organizations and networks across the African Diaspora. This lead to the development of the Gateway Countries to Gateway Cities Program as an extension of the Forgotten Communities Program. The global outreach is the following:
The PAN AFRICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE INITIATIVE
- Sharing “Our Cultural Knowledge and Experiences” in the areas of Commerce, Culture, Community, Education, Influence, Knowledge, and Faith; via established business, educational, social and tourism networks. The ultimate goal being: to “Rebuild and Connect” the global people of PAN AFRICA, via the technology platforms of the internet and to use proven Cultural Economics and Heritage Tourism programs to develop Forgotten Communities, foster prosperity through business growth and job creation; and to facilitate cultural exchanges and services with other members of the African Diaspora, in partnership with the Pan African Cultural Heritage Alliance.