Memphis' convention business still strong - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis' convention business still strong

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Tough economic times have slowed down the traditionally steady pace of business and leisure travelers in Memphis.

Despite that, massive crowds have chosen to bring their convention business to the Bluff City in 2009.

"It's gonna be a record convention year for the Cook Convention Center this year, an all time high as far as the number of conventions that are going to be in town," said Kevin Kane of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Kane says convention business in 2009 is already 25 percent ahead of last year, thanks in part to the large crowds drawn to Memphis for the Conference USA tournament. And there's more where that came from.
"Next week it's a double bonus because the South Regionals are going to be played in Memphis," he said.

Basketball isn't the only event attracting people and revenue.  Just a few of the events in the upcoming year include:

A national college fair next week, a pilates convention and pilot's aviation convention in June, and the Urban Network Music and Entertainment Summit.  In September, the COGIC convention returns to Memphis. 

But while convention business is on a roll, local hotels are suffering from a slump in business and leisure travel.

"You know, almost half of their business across the city is that day-to-day business traveler, and of course they have pulled way back," Kane said.

Despite that, Kane believes the city's many businesses and tourist attractions will be able to weather the current economic storm. 

"Still doesn't mean that we're not out fighting for every tourist and every visitor we can bring to the city, and we'll continue to do that," he said.

Kane says Beale Street tourism is likely to be down this year compared to last, but the timing of the most recent Liberty Bowl kept tourists in town longer, and gave Beale street a jump start early in the year. 

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