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CVB Working To Ensure Diverse Groups, Visitors 'See Themselves' In Cincinnati

Courtesy of Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering a look at the impact of Black tourism on the local economy. The first-ever Black Traveler Report is the subject of the first presentation in theVIBE Be Empowered Speaker Series.

The international report was commissioned by Black travel advocacy organizations and released in January. The presentation on Wednesday, April 21, will look at the report's findings and discuss the impact locally as well as how to improve and what efforts are already in place or under way.

"This data will allow us to tether our new strategies moving forward outside of Cincinnati, also in Northern Kentucky (and) Southern Indiana, etc., to position our region as a competitive force that says 'Hey, we want and welcome people to come here who are Black,' " says the CVB's Jason Dunn, group vice president of equity and inclusion.

Black travelers spent $109.4 billion on domestic travel in 2019, according to the findings from The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities, commissioned by MMGY Global, a travel marketing agency.

The report finds 54% of U.S. Black travelers say they're more likely to visit somewhere if they see Black representation in advertising or messaging about that location. Respondents also put safety high on their list of factors when deciding where to travel: 71% said it was extremely or very influential in their decisions.

Tourism is important for the economy and for attracting new residents. The region needs to make a good impression for potential future employees visiting ahead of taking a new job, for example.

"What we try to do is ensure that the city is welcoming," Dunn says. "We try to create experiences where folks see themselves, where their culture is accepted, where they can kind of position themselves and say 'I want to live here, not just for one or two years, but I want to live here and bring my family here and create a life for us to sustain ourselves.' "

Dunn says Cincinnati and the region have done a lot in the aftermath of the 2001 unrest and subsequent boycott to position the Tri-State as a destination for events like the Cincinnati Music Festival - the region's largest revenue-generating event at $107 million in economic impact in just two days - and the nation's largest Black organizations.

"We've been successful with that; 21 of the top 25 Black organizations, we've hosted here in Cincinnati. We are positioned internationally as leading the conversation in equity and securing Black and Hispanic conventions here," he points out, adding the CVB has an office dedicated to focusing on attracting Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ+ and other groups.

Part of the strategy involves working with local chapters of national or international organizations, helping them be successful by assisting with various programs and membership. The CVB asks people and organizations if they see themselves in the marketing of the region. Dunn says that helps local chapters attract their national organizations to the region. He points to the NAACP convention, held in Cincinnati in 2008 and 2016, as an example.

The CVB also aims to make sure there's equity, with those large conventions making financials returns for local groups and communities, Dunn says.

"When all that money comes into our region from tourists, we want to make sure that it also has a ripple effect within those communities of whom those demographics represent," he says. "We made sure that the contracts that were available from the national associations were sent to the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber, etc. so those individual organizations had an opportunity to compete."

The event is free. You can register here for a Zoom link to the meeting from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21.

Panelists include:

  • Martinque Lewis, President, The Black Travel Alliance
  • Danny Guerrero, VP North American Strategy, MMGY Global
  • Stephen Paginelli, Director of Destination Marketing, TripAdvisor
  • Jason Dunn, GVP Equity and Inclusion, Cincinnati USA CVB
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.