4.Please tell us about the Miami outside of the stereotypical images that we associate with South Beach.Please give us a brief history of this diverse city and let us know what makes this city special?
Miami is more than a beach,but unfortunately,Miami has been marketed as “Miami Beach” historically. The communities of Little Haiti,Overtown,Liberty City,Allapattah,and Little Havana are low income communities,however,what most people do not know is that each is so rich culturally.The music,the arts,craft,dance,and food within each respective community gives the visitor a unique experience. As you know,The traveler of today is more sophisticated,wanting to immerse themselves in the culture of a place and have an authentic community experience. People are willing to pay a little more for this kind of tour.Further,they like to buy hand made arts and crafts souvenirs to take home.
Colourful butterflies available for sale at the Kalbassi House
5.Miami is a city of immigrants.Please give us an overview of the ethnic and cultural communities of Miami.
Little Haiti is the largest enclave of Haitians outside of Haiti.The population is about 40,000- 95 percent of which are of Haitian heritage.Most of them migrated as refugees and arrived by boats in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.Haitian Creole is primary language spoken there.
Little Havana is primarily a Cuban neighborhood where most of the refugees came between 1965 and 1973 by air,by what were known as the “freedom flights”.Many children came on flights known as “Pedro Pan”,( Spanish for Peter Pan). The infrastructure of Little Havana is a bit more advanced for cultural tourism because it was established fifteen years earlier than Little Haiti.
Allapattah is primarily a Dominican and Puerto Rican community.Coconut Grove has a strong Bahamian history and maintains a vibrant Bahamian cultural heritage to this day.Overtown,once known as the “Broadway of the South” is primarily an African-American community with strong Bahamian roots.Liberty City is an African-American community that developed as an expansion of Overtown.
Brightly painted facades in Little Haiti
6.You specialize in cultural community tours and tourism-driven urban revitalization.Please tell us about your emphasis on connecting with and supporting the local communities?
It is very important to support the local communities to help them flourish through tourism.One of our principle doctrines is “Economic Development through Tourism” and the other is ” Cross-Cultural Experiential Learning”.We have a very close relationship with the entrepreneurs,pioneers and community leaders in each of the communities we tour.These relationships took seven years to build before we did the first tour.We encourage our visitors to shop in the community.We also provide donations to the churches and other small community attractions that we visit.
David introduces me to some local entrepeneurs
7.What neighborhoods do your tours cover? What kind of special,unique places do your tours cover?
Little Haiti,Overtown,Liberty City,Coconut Grove,Wynwood,Allapattah,and Little Havana.In each community we feature unique attractions that represent the history and culture of the community.In Little Haiti some of the spots include: a botanica,a bakery and ice cream shop,restaurants,a bookstore,an art gallery and a church.In Little Havana we feature galleries,monuments,souvenir shops and restaurants. In Overtown,churches,boutiques,a theater,a restaurant and even a barbershop.In Liberty City,a wall,that in times of segregation,divided the black and white communities,a t-shirt shop,a Jamaican souvenir shop and restaurants.In Allapattah,monuments,churches,restaurants and a gallery.Wynwood is an upcoming neighborhood that is the focal point art galleries.Coconut Grove has historic Bahamian homes,a Bahamian Cemetery and churches.
The Historic Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church