Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

2015 Looking Bright for City's Tourism

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

2015 Looking Bright for City's Tourism

Article excerpt

The new year could be a banner one for conventions and tourism in Pittsburgh, the city's top tourism official is predicting.

"I've been in this marketplace 22 years . and I have not yet seen a year that this year is shaping up to be," Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh, said Thursday before the group's annual meeting.

Mr. Davis said the first quarter already has proven to be much better than expected in terms of hotel revenues, occupancy and average room rate. Business has been so good that the agency is scrambling to find additional hotel space because the booked conventions "are multiplying in size."

Room nights are 50,000 ahead of where they were last year at this time, Mr. Davis said, and the city is about 51,000 room nights ahead of the average over the past five years.

If it continues "on this kind of trajectory, I think the rest of the year is going to be very, very good," he said.

Among the biggest conventions this year will be the Society for Science and the Public's INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair (11,000 attendees); the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention (9,000 attendees); the Barbershop Harmony Society's international convention (7,000 attendees), and the Fraternal Order of Police biennial national convention and expo (6,000 attendees).

VisitPittsburgh estimates those four events and six other noteworthy ones alone will generate 47,250 attendees, 76,067 room nights, and $45.8 million in direct spending.

Mr. Davis said he also expects the number of conventions to exceed those last year and in 2013.

Last year, the agency said it booked 533 meetings and conventions for 2014 and beyond, representing about $218 million in direct spending.

Among notable future conventions are the National League of Cities next year (5,000 attendees), the National Society of Black Engineers in 2018 in a return engagement (9,525 attendees), and the Geological Society of America in 2023 (6,500 attendees). …

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