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Indiana’s South Shore Hosts AATC

SALEM, Ohio — Group tourism is experiencing a strong year thanks in part to the growth of its niche markets. One of those growth markets is in the African-American community, where strong grassroots organizations are keeping group travel moving.

Travel planners representing their African-American groups recently met at Indiana’s South Shore where they attended the African American Travel Conference (AATC). The AATC, the industry’s premier meeting focusing on group travel, drew delegates from 25 states and Canada. The focus of the conference was destination awareness and the development of tour planning skills.

New to this year’s conference was the attendance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), whose representatives brought a message on the importance of including motorcoach safety checks in the travel planning process.

“FMCSA is the federal agency responsible for oversight of motorcoach safety regulations and is the primary reason that we charter buses in confidence in America,” said Joe Cappuzzello of AATC.

FMCSA not only held one-on-one appointments with tour planner delegates but also made a conferencewide presentation explaining its Look Before You Book program that allows travel planners to research safety records of motorcoach companies.

The Indiana South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority hosted this year’s conference and showcased its area as a destination for group travel. All delegates enjoyed sightseeing tours of Indiana’s South Shore and were familiarized with the destination’s many group-friendly attractions.

“Everything was wonderfully done, especially the Shrine of Christ’s Passion,” said Rhonda Burgett of Burgett Travel Network of St Louis.

Destinations welcoming the group market were well represented at AATC this year.

“Awesome show, well organized and plenty of time for great appointments,” said first-time delegate Dixie Wyler of Experience Columbus.

One destination that is no stranger to AATC is Visit Baltimore.

“We hosted AATC a few years ago and are reminding groups to visit Baltimore for a few days to experience all that is new,” said Visit Baltimore’s Eric Masterson.

Gaming destinations and venues are an important element of today’s group travel and were also present at AATC. Many gaming venues have developed into full destinations with lodging, entertainment and a wide range of meal selections. One of these at AATC was Hoosier Park Racing and Casino. “I’ve been coming to AATC for years, and it’s a great opportunity to meet new groups as well as refresh relationships with our existing clients,” said the casino’s Mike Kase.

AATC seems to have accomplished its goal of broadening tour destination awareness and increasing networking among the group travel market.

The next African American Travel Conference will take place in Cleveland, April 21-23, 2016. To attend, contact Teresa Burton at 800-628-0993 or register online at