ROCK HILL, S.C. — More than 150 African-American group travel leaders from 20 states attended the African American Travel Conference (AATC), which took place April 23-25.
The group leaders were joined by travel industry representatives from destinations and tourism companies across the country. The three-day conference included two business appointment sessions, as well as various seminars, meals and networking opportunities. Attendees also visited attractions around Rock Hill, a South Carolina city just outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It’s been a pleasure to have AATC here in town,” said Sonja Burris of the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’ve been nurturing this relationship for a very long time; we’ve been going to the conference since 2006. The delegates here are engaging each other, and we’re engaging them.”
Rock Hill kicked off the conference with an opening reception and dinner at McBryde Hall, a medieval-style building on the campus of Winthrop University, where they heard stories from members of the Friendship Nine civil rights group that staged lunch counter sit-ins in 1961. Other Rock Hill highlights included visits to Historic Brattonsville, a living-history site in Rock Hill, as well as to the Catawba Indian Cultural Center. An evening event took place at NarroWay Productions, a faith-based theater company that produces musicals with the help of 300 volunteer cast and crew members.
In addition to exploring Rock Hill, delegates made use of the conference’s appointment sessions to plan new travel for their groups.
“I just booked business on the floor, and that is extremely exciting,” said Lisa Heidelberg of Presque Isle Downs. “I love this conference, and I think it is one of the biggest returns on investment that Group Travel Family offers.”
“The people here are go-getters, they’re organizing groups, they want to know the latest travel trends; and it’s good to be a resource for them so they can understand what’s going on in the industry,” said Kimbela Randle of Globus.
The conference also continued its partnership with the United Negro College Fund.
“Our AATC members and delegates donated $1,935, and AATC matched that amount for a total donation of $3,870,” said conference president and CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “This is the fourth year of AATC giving back to the United Negro College Fund. Cracker Barrel also contributed a corporate donation of $1,000.”
The 2014 African American Travel Conference will take place at Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Canada, April 8-10.