Travel Conference to Benefit Bahamas

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It may take upwards of a year for The Bahamas to see the real effects of the Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) conference that hosted over 200 travel professionals from the U.S.

But when the benefits do come, Tourism officials are expecting them to come in herds.

"We are going after the African American market because of the group potential," said Virginia Kelly, Tourism's senior manager of groups and conferences. "Research shows that they tend to travel where they feel a connection to heritage and history and as the minister has said before, there is a connection between African Americans and Bahamians.

"And we want them to come here for their vacations, for their family reunions and so on."

It's a message that was likely boosted with the premiere of Tyler Perry's "Why did I get married too?" movie that was filmed here in The Bahamas last year.

More importantly, however, members of the TPOC team are hoping the authentication of certain heritage sites here in The Bahamas will lend more credibility to the destination. It's just one of the things Karen Little from the TPOC heritage team hopes will change by the time she leaves on Monday — that and some other issues.

"We want to encourage African Americans to visit The Bahamas, but there's been a gap for a while because of somethings that happened and blacks stopped traveling here for a bit," she said. "So we're hoping to change that experience . . .and get Bahamians more familiar with the market so that when African Americans start coming it will be smooth."

The growth is something her team member Benny Henderson will track. He'll be doing that using the organization's web site and calculating the hits, the information disseminated, the e-mail responses and the number of bookings actually made afterwards.

"About a year from now," he said, "we'll use our web site and technology to be the catalyst in getting people here this site."

Source: The Nassau Guardian