When many people think of vacationing in Florida, they target the usual spots like Orlando and Miami. However, there is another Florida city with a bevy of attractions waiting for would-be travelers: Fort Lauderdale.
While in many minds Fort Lauderdale may be seen as a place for an older or whiter crowd, thanks to a new multicultural initiative that might be changing soon.
The South Florida city prides itself in its affordability as well as its convenient location, great for people planning big events like family reunions, which is very popular among people of color.
“When you look at the capacity to get into Ft. Lauderdale, we have one of the easiest airports to fly into and it’s right next to our downtown areas,” said Albert Tucker, Vice President of Multicultural Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Business Bureau. “Most importantly we have a convention and business bureau that works really closely with individuals coming in with conferences, conventions and family reunions.”
In addition to being a great event location, Fort Lauderdale is great for people that are not into the party scene and are a bit more conservative. Those people, Tucker said, are a big part of their tourism demographic. “They’ve been to South Beach, they’ve seen that scene and that’s why greater Ft. Lauderdale is doing so well because it’s situated where we have something for everybody,” said Tucker. “It’s a little bit more laid back and it’s just a totally different scene. So, I think we’re really the best of both worlds.”
Tucker admitted that Fort Lauderdale isn’t necessarily geared towards the Spring Break crowd. “They go to Miami,” he remarked. “We’re not trying to cater to their group and what I mean is it’s not that we don’t want them but when you look at the demographics of the individuals of color that what Ft. Lauderdale can offer is more for individuals 35 and up.”
Another quality that Fort Lauderdale possesses is the influence of the migrant Caribbean population. That presence had allowed the city to offer attractions it might not have if it weren’t for its coastal location.
According to Tucker, Fort Lauderdale recently hosted a cricket match, something popular among Caribbean people. “Economically, that helps us drastically because we’re on a world stage,” Tucker said. “That particular program that is coming here is going to be broadcast to 1.2 billion families around the world in areas we never get access to, so having the Caribbean culture here is being able to build on it. It gives us added value to those that are interested in coming to the destination.”
With its sandy beaches and hot, sunny weather, it’s no wonder that Caribbean people are attracted to Fort Lauderdale. “For me, I think our destination provides people with a chance to have a home away from home. It has everything you would want in a Caribbean nation right here,” Tucker said. “The climate, the ease of access and those that just want to come down here and relax on the beach, we have that. We have those that are more interested in the other cultural components with our Everglades and then there’s our shopping.”
The goal of the initiative is to let people know what Fort Lauderdale has to offer. Yes, there are beaches and shopping but there is definitely something for everyone. History buffs can visit the African American research library. Foodies can partake in any cuisine they choose from Argentinian to Jamaican. There are also various events all year ranging from concert featuring acts like the Temptations and the Soweto Gospel Choir to comedy shows, festivals and safaris.
Ultimately, Tucker wants to make sure people feel like the city is inviting. “We just have a variety of good aspects for people to come and see,” Tucker concluded.