SC – October 2020 / Newsmaker Alert / The
Gullah Geechee Cultural
Heritage Corridor, a National Heritage Area, released initial findings
from a new market survey report that indicates traveler interest in visiting
the region’s Gullah Geechee and African American heritage sites is strong.
report was prepared by Mandala
Research which valued the potential leisure spend for the four states
that make up the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor – North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia and Florida – at $34B. The report also revealed
strong name recognition among travelers nationwide for Gullah Geechee culture
indicating the immense potential for encouraging more heritage and cultural
tourism to the Corridor.
new report was privately funded by the Gaylord
& Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and is the first to explore the
national market for Gullah Geechee heritage tourism. It is poised to be
an important driver for community-driven historic and cultural preservation,
new educational programs, and economic investment in Gullah Geechee businesses.
Findings in the report were based on a national, market survey of 1,000
U.S. leisure travelers conducted in June of this year in addition to stakeholder
meetings and interviews with Gullah Geechee community members and tourism
to the findings was that African American heritage is strong motivator
for travel and just under a quarter of all travelers (24%) expressed a
strong interest in visiting sites in the South that are of historic significance
to African Americans. Overall, the relative importance of African American
culture in choice of a destination is high with 36% of all travelers ranking
it either “very important” or “somewhat important,” and African Americans
(50%) and Millennials (49%) statistically more likely to say it has this
level of importance.
specifically at Gullah Geechee destinations, the survey found that 37%
of travelers who lived in nearby states (the “drive market”) were familiar
with Gullah Geechee culture and that 51% of African American Culture Enthusiast
were aware of it. Levels of awareness were also high among African Americans,
LGBTQ, Millennials, and affluent travelers.
report also sheds light on the most desired cultural experiences. “Experiencing
local cuisine” was cited by 65% of the travelers surveyed setting the stage
for more investment in educating Americans about traditional Gullah Geechee
foodways and creating more cross-cultural, culinary experiences around
Gullah Geechee restaurants, farms, and chefs.
St. Simons African American Historic Coalition operates the Historic Harrington
School museum and cultural center on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Last year,
they added a Gullah Geechee food festival to their programming. It is one
of the many Gullah Geechee heritage sites that will benefit from data in
this report as it begins to re-open and welcome visitors.
is enormous potential for Gullah Geechee heritage tourism to directly benefit
Gullah Geechee communities and to support local preservation and conservation
initiatives. This report provides the data and insights we need to collaborate
with communities to reach their tourism goals,” said Heather L. Hodges,
Executive Director, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
report’s findings were applauded by the Congressman responsible for the
creation of the national, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
am pleased this report indicates the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
is poised to create economic opportunity for the communities within the
Corridor while educating more people about this rich culture,” said U.S.
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC). “I introduced the legislation
creating this National Heritage Area to help preserve this important culture
and create heritage sites that could become touchstones for attracting
copy of the report is available on request at www.GullahGeecheeCorridor.org.
The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is a federal, National Heritage
Area that spans 12,000 square miles of the Lower Atlantic coastline of
the United States. The National Heritage Area program is managed by the
U.S. National Park Service. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress
as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form
a cohesive, nationally important landscape. The purpose of the Gullah Geechee
Cultural Heritage Corridor NHA is to preserve, share and interpret the
history, traditional cultural practices, heritage sites, and natural resources
associated with Gullah Geechee people of coastal North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Visit us at www.GullahGeecheeCorridor.org.
Director, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor NHA