Tourism & Cruises

Tapping into the growing black tourism market — a $90 billion prize

Andy Ingraham, Gloria Herbert, Rocco M. Angelo, Solomon Herbert and Erinn D. Tucke at the Apex Award Ceremony at the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers conference, recently held in Miami.
Andy Ingraham, Gloria Herbert, Rocco M. Angelo, Solomon Herbert and Erinn D. Tucke at the Apex Award Ceremony at the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers conference, recently held in Miami. Courtesy of National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers

A century ago, black tourists visiting Miami had few choices for lodging. They either bunked a few days with family or friends or booked a room in a hotel solely for black people in Colored Town/ Overtown, a then-segregated community adjacent to downtown Miami.

In that immediate area, between Northwest Second and Third Avenues and Northwest Sixth and 10th Streets, two of four hotels, the Dorsey and Mary Elizabeth, were owned by black people. The Carver and Lord Calvert/Sir John hotels were owned by white people.

Over time, the community was disrupted by the building of a highway, integration, neglect and riots, resulting in the loss of Overtown’s core residences and businesses, including the hotels.

Near the end of the 20th century, Andy Ingraham established the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers to empower African Americans in the hospitality industry.

The primary goal was to increase the number of African Americans developing, managing, operating and owning hotels, develop executive-level jobs for minorities and boost vendor opportunities, thereby creating wealth within the African American community.

“I was born and grew up in the Bahamas, where my family owned a travel industry business. I later moved to Fort Lauderdale and began my career in the travel and tourism industry,” Ingraham said.

In the 1990s, his appointments to the White House Conference on Tourism and the National Tourism Advisory Committee for the NAACP inspired him to establish the International Multicultural Tourism and Hotel Ownership Conference. Over 20 years, it has evolved into an annual event for blacks and other minorities interested in becoming hotel owners, operators, investors or suppliers.

The 23rd Annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show was held last month at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel. The theme was, “Ownership- The New Paradigm.”

More than 500 people attended the three-day conference. Hot topics included hotel ownership, investing, supplier opportunities, financing deals, public/private partnerships and employment.

The focus was how to market to minorities, and growing a share of the $90 billion-plus African American, Multicultural & Heritage Tourism markets.

The trade show featured Caribbean leaders and government officials who spoke about investment opportunities and incentives in the region. The opening reception was sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands aboard the African American-owned South Beach Lady Yacht.

The Multicultural Tourism Town Hall speakers included Lindsey Norris of Visit Florida; William D. Talbert III, president & CEO, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB); Elliot Ferguson, chairman of U.S. Travel and president of Destination DC; Ernie Wooden, president of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board; Zane DeSilva, Minister of Tourism of Bermuda; and Joseph Boschuite, tourism commissioner of U. S. Virgin Islands. Little Havana-To-Go-Miami Supplier, Carole Ann Taylor, also participated.

At Hilton’s Scholarship & Awards Luncheon, developer and keynote speaker R. Donahue Peebles said he was delighted to see so many New York real estate types in the Miami audience.

On Saturday, The Sixth Annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit & Trade Show’s theme was, “Exploring the Multicultural Tourism Market.” Sessions included the LGBTQ U.S. travel market valued at $63 billion, Promoting the 400 Year Heritage of Africans in America and Miami’s Multicultural & Heritage Tour led by Dr. Paul George of History Miami. The Women in NABHOOD Webinar series is available online.

One panel featured industry practitioners who develop programs that benefit Multicultural and Heritage Tourism and impact the minority business community.

The panel included Essence Harris-Banks, executive director, New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network; Janet Johnson, CEO & executive director, Bahamas Tourism Development Corp. and Greg DeShields, executive director, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and an adjunct instructor at Temple University.

A second panel focused on the group market, in particular family and class reunions. The growing reunion segment is a huge boost to the tourism market.

The panel included Petra Brennan, director of tourism business enhancement, multicultural tourism & development of the Greater Miami bureau; Lisa Blake, business development manager, affinity & diversity group sales, Holland America Line; and Cory Abke, national director, hotel sales, So. LA, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

The summit ended with a gala evening featuring the Black Meetings & Tourism Magazine (BM&T) Apex Awards ceremony. The mistress of ceremony, P J Sands, is CEO of DS33 Global Brand Strategist and LUXE Worldwide Events. Connie W. Kinnard, vice president of multicultural tourism & development, of the Greater Miami bureau, was one of the presenters.

This annual tribute celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions in travel and tourism, particularly in multicultural and heritage tourism.

Published since 1994, BM&T is the award-winning international monthly industry trade publication for African Americans in the travel and tourism industry.

Solomon and Gloria Herbert, longtime publisher and editor of Black Meetings & Tourism magazine, are celebrating 25 years as the authority of African American conventions.

Well received was the Sheen Magazine of the Chapman Foundation scholarship awards, which will support the educational expenses of three students. NABHOOD’s founder, Andy Ingraham, closed the evening by issuing the call for next year’s summit, July 24-26, 2020.

Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Ph.D., is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History & Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Email her at