EXPANDING… CULTURAL COMMERCE THROUGH
...A Presentation Defining a Greater Vision for the Pan African Heritage Trails: Celebrating Our Routes (Roots) in the United States And Throughout The Diaspora!
- It has been said that some communities allow the future to happen to them, but successful communities decide the future is something they can create. These communities take the time to produce a vision of the future they desire and employ a process that helps them achieve their goals.
- In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed west and explored a "New World". For large numbers of people fleeing the stifling cultures of Europe and the "Old World," the "New World" was the doorway to a whole new way of life; a life symbolized by the opportunity to live as individuals able to freely organize in the pursuit of their human fulfillment in genuine community. This event was one of the greatest examples of cultural renewal with massive numbers of people seeking new experiences for themselves. It laid the foundation for an unprecedented expansion of trade, travel and transformation. And it provides us an awe-inspiring vision of the activity we have come to call tourism.
- Over five hundred years later, we have come full circle. While no physical "New Worlds" are left for us to "discover", a vast cultural and spiritual "New World" is waiting to be "explored". This is the "New World" of individual, organizational and community development.
- There is no time like the present to take the age-old activity of individual, organizational and community development and utilize it as a tourism product. There are vast numbers of individuals urgently seeking ways to fulfill their lives, individually, organizationally and communally. Cultural tourism has become the vehicle to achieve this end.
- According to the Travel Industry Association recent studies show that 92 million Americans intentionally seek out cultural experiences on their vacations. Cultural tourism is becoming the largest segment of the travel industry. Cultural tourists outspend their counterparts by averaging $349 with each visit to Florida compared to $291 spent by other tourists. More importantly, American Express research indicates that response rates from direct mail to this group are exceedingly high. American Express experienced returns of 59% vs. industry standard of 10%.
- Simply put, cultural tourism involves two activities: one of people creating, packaging and selling products as well as services that cultivate their individual, organizational and community development (the cultural aspect) and two, when this activity is shared with guests and visitors so that they discover finer, grander and more enjoyable concepts of themselves, this becomes tourism.
- In the pursuit of a greater individual, organizational and community life, communities spend tremendous sums of money on cultural tourism. They often do not realize the real potential of what they are doing, simply because they don’t define it properly.
- There are over 19,000 municipalities in the United States alone. Europe, Canada Asia and the rest of The Americas add to this number. Each municipality in the US is generally a city or town, and each city and town includes numerous districts. Each district can be made up of many different communities. Together the communities of the United States and those of Europe, Canada and The Americas number in the many thousands at least. These communities collectively are comprised of millions of people.
- All of these millions of people in their various communities have one thing in common; they are all interested in developing their individual, organizational and community life. They all spend money every day to promote and develop their individual, organizational and community life. Many of them will pay to see and experience old and familiar customs and traditions as well as new ways of gaining a greater sense of freedom and happiness: a greater sense of self.
- This is the new tourism experience! The greatest economic resource many African-American communities have is their "ability" to create, package and market constructive human experiences. This activity can be called cultural tourism. It is also individual, organizational and community development. The work that many black communities are already engaged in is exactly this: individual, organizational and community development. The expertise gained by Blacks in the work of individual, organizational and community development can be easily expanded to embrace cultural tourism. Again, cultural tourism is simply providing individuals varied and constructive experiences so that they may discover finer, grander and more enjoyable concepts of themselves and others.
Some Defining Principles of Cultural Tourism
Cultural tourism with its expression through the socioeconomic structure of individual, organizational and community development can be characterized by the following ideas:
- A recognition that the most basic wealth of a community is its residents and their experiences and that genuine wealth is created by as many people as possible participating in mutually rewarding relationships with each other.
- That all individuals are impelled to move from a state of lower condition to a state of higher condition, i.e. all individuals are impelled to develop their full human potential.
- The activity of individual development is contained within “The Process of Development”. Individual, organizational and community development are the three stages of "The Process of Development".
- That community residents and their experiences are best understood and most highly valued when they are intelligently defined within the cultural context of individual, organizational and community development.
- That organizations and communities are necessary and vital because they provide a more practical, efficient and precise means for individuals to build wealth and power and to develop their full human potential.
- That one of the most productive activities of all is when community residents create, package, own and sell products as well as services that promote their individual, organizational and community development - this is why individuals are encouraged to claim and utilize their experiences.
- That these ideas (especially point 5) define Community-Based Tourism and that it is this activity that enables individuals to discover the greatest wealth and power to meet their individual desires and needs.
- These are some basic ideas which can be more practically developed through cultural tourism. They are consistent with sound psychological and spiritual principles and able to support sustained socioeconomic growth and development everywhere.