Ethnic Cultural Tourism Conference to be held in July


Several organizations focused on promoting tourism in the American Indian community and in other communities of color will gather with their colleagues from around the state at Black Bear Crossings on the Lake for the inaugural Ethnic Cultural Tourism Destinations (ECTD) Conference.

The conference, which will be held  on July 13 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Black Bear Crossings, 1360 North Lexington Parkway, St. Paul, will feature a mix of local and nationally known speakers on topics that are applicable to any community.

Among the planners of this conference were David Glass, of Black Bear Crossings and the American Indian Economic Development Fund, and Janice LaFloe of the American Indian Family Center.

"We had great participation from the local American Indian community," said Lisa Tabor, organizer of the conference and executive director of CultureBrokers Foundation. 

The conference is being planned by the ECTD Collaborative, a group of community developers, tourism professionals, businesses, residents, agencies and elected officials working together to capitalize and leverage St. Paul’s ethnic cultural assets for the economic benefit of ethnic populations. Through promotion of cultural tourism as an economic development tool, the conference will help people capitalize on local assets while expanding their economies through new visitors to their neighborhoods.

Tourism is a huge industry in Minnesota. In 2009, tourism in Minnesota generated $11.2 billion in economic activity and accounted for 247,808 jobs. As an economic development engine, well- managed tourism offers an incredible opportunity to Minnesota’s ethnic communities, if they participate. Among the advantages are: Injecting new dollars into the local economy; Creating job and business opportunities; Preserving neighborhoods’ environment, heritage and inherent character; Stimulating new and improved infrastructure; and Providing intercultural experiences and broadening minds.

Although ethnic destinations exist throughout Minnesota, they tend to be disconnected from the tourism industry. The ECTD Collaborative works to make connections between ethnic populations, economic developers, tourism planners, cultural and historic site managers, chambers of commerce, community development organizations, elected officials, funders and those with an interest in closing pervasive and worsening social and economic gaps.


Romona Riscoe Benson (keynote), who will speak on "Making the Case for Ethnic Cultural Tourism – A Business Imperative for Destinations," is President & CEO of African American Museum of Philadelphia. 

Charles Landry (keynote), who will discuss "The Art of Conviviality: Planning for Diversity Advantage," is an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change. Charles helps cities "future proof" themselves by identifying and making the most of their resources, and by triggering inventive-ness and open-minded thinking.

Joel A. Barker (keynote), whose topic is "Scouting the Future for Saint Paul as an Intercultural City – Implications® Wheel Workshop," is one of the best-known futurists in the world. His videos on the future have been translated into 20 languages and have been seen by more than 100 million people.

Anne Brise?o is Commercial Development Director at East Side Neighborhood Development Company, where she oversees real estate projects, small business services and commercial corridor revitalization. 

Dr. Bruce Corrie is Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Undergraduate Business at Concordia University in St. Paul. He is editor of

John Edman is Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, a public-private tourism organization created by the state legislature in 2004. Explore Minnesota Tourism promotes Minnesota as a tourism and travel destination.

Hector Garcia, in his role as Executive Director of the Chicano Latino Affairs Council, coordinates strategic partnerships with outside agencies and engages the governor and legislature on Latino- specific issue and policy recommendations.

Cynthia Messer is an Extension Professor with the University of Minnesota Tourism Center. She has more than 30 years of experience in the tourism industry.

Erik Takeshita is Principal of the Takeshita Group and a Senior Program Officer for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) leading their comprehensive community development work in the Twin Cities. 

Registrations range from $15 to $50. Visit: or call 651-344-0664 for more info.