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Fostering Sustainable Tourism: Highlights from the West-Central Alabama Tourism Conference

On February 14th, TRHT Selma and the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation (SCNTR), orchestrated the West-Central Alabama Tourism Conference. Held at Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS), the conference focused on sustainability and cultural preservation.

People sitting in auditorium seating listening at a presentation
Conference attendees listening to a conference presentation.

Registration for the conference was capped at 40 participants to ensure an intimate and productive environment, and the community's interest was palpable. With all seats reserved and 38 attendees ultimately participating the full house reflected the commitment to fostering sustainable tourism practices that promote, and protect, the cultural and natural heritage of West-Central Alabama.

The conference featured a lineup of distinguished speakers who are at the forefront of tourism and cultural preservation. Danielle Wooten from the City of Selma shared insights into local initiatives aimed at enhancing tourism while maintaining the city's historical integrity. Pam Swanner of Alabama Black Belt Adventures highlighted the importance of eco-tourism and conservation efforts within the Black Belt region, an area known for its rich biodiversity and cultural significance.

Weaving History and Community as a Way Forward

A woman sitting in a walker on stage with a large projected image behind her
Kim Kelly, Executive Director of the Freedom Quilting Bee of Alberta/Gee’s Bend

The highlight of the event was the keynote address by Kim Kelly, Executive Director of the Freedom Quilting Bee of Alberta/Gee’s Bend. Known for its historical and cultural significance, the Freedom Quilting Bee represents a vital chapter in the narrative of Gee's Bend, famous for its unique quilts that are considered a form of visual storytelling and a testament to the resilience of the African American community in the South. Kelly's presentation connected the dots between cultural heritage tourism and economic development, emphasizing how heritage crafts like quilting can play a central role in both preserving history and fostering economic growth in rural communities.

The conference provided a platform for sharing knowledge and strategies that also sparked conversations about the future of tourism in the region. This collaboration among local leaders, community members, and tourism professionals to develop sustainable practices that uplift communities while respecting their history and environment, is a direct goal of the SCNTR’s mission.

As TRHT Selma and the SCNTR continue the work, the ripple from the conference will inspire new initiatives that support sustainable tourism and inclusive economic development. It will take time, but with each step we come closer to preserving our heritage for future generations while fostering an environment where tourism thrives on the principles of respect, preservation, and community.

To stay up to date on all things shaping around the SCNTR and sustainable tourism, make sure to like our social media channels on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Join us in developing a sustainable future in Selma and Dallas County.

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