Attracting diverse groups of tourists to the county would help the local economy and showcase it to a wider audience and is long overdue. That’s according to Ruben Barrales, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Barrales said that while he couldn’t reference statistics showing the percentage of minorities among the visitor count, it’s safe to say that there’s a lack of diversity among groups and organizations that come here for meetings and conventions.
“If we are bringing folks here on a fam tour that are not regular visitors to San Diego, then by definition we can do a better job of attracting more diverse groups of visitors,” he said.
Barrales was referring to a familiarization tour arranged by the Multi-Cultural Convention Services Network, which he was scheduled to address last weekend.
MCCSN, headed by Clara Carter, was founded in 2003. Its mission, she said, “is to increase San Diego’s share of the multicultural convention and tourism markets, while ensuring the inclusion of people of color in every aspect of the hospitality industry.”
Its first familiarization tour, scheduled for Sept. 13-16, drew meeting planners from the International Association of Hispanic Meeting Planners and the National Bar Association, both based in Houston. The tour also attracted planners from the Worldwide Association of Mexicans Abroad of Arcadia; Travel Professionals of Color, Denver; National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club Inc., Marlboro, Md.; RAIZ Events Inc. of Dallas; National Association of Black County Officials, Washington, D.C.; and Blacks in Government of Sacramento.
“MCCSN has organized this event to highlight the economic viability of the Hispanic, Asian and African-American markets and to harness their $100 billion purchasing power for the city of San Diego,” Carter said. “The planners will have an opportunity to see San Diego as a diverse city and an attractive destination for their future events.
“The total economic impact expected from organizations represented in this fam tour is estimated at around $2.5 million.”
Mayor Jerry Sanders was scheduled to address the group at a welcoming dinner at the event’s host property, the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley.
Speakers for the event were also to include David Peckinpaugh, president and chief executive of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau; Carol Wallace, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Convention Center Corp.; and Gloria and Sol Herbert, publishers of Black Meetings and Tourism Magazine.
“The importance of the work that Clara Carter is doing is bringing front-of-mind awareness of San Diego to minority and multicultural groups and it helps us bring more business to San Diego,” Wallace said. “At the center we tend to focus on the medical meetings market, the associations market and corporate incentives meetings.”
Activities for the familiarization tour included a guided trolley tour of the city, a cruise around San Diego Bay, a tour of the USS Midway, lunch in Old Town and a VIP reception and dinner at the San Diego Convention Center.
Aside from the Town and Country Resort, those providing partnerships and sponsorships included Southwest Airlines, the Convention Center, Cloud 9 Shuttle, Mission Valley Tourism Council, Black Meetings and Tourism Magazine, ConVis, Sempra Energy, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego Event D & #233;cor, San Diego Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, Urban League of San Diego County, and the chamber.