Convention bookings solid to 2017

James
James McLeod
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The backbone of the St. John's tourism business appears to be solid for the forseeable future.

Destination St. John's already has large convention bookings for 2016 and 2017.

Far from being hurt by the recession, the city of St. John's actually saw convention bookings increase in 2009 - the only major city to do so, according to Krista Cameron, sales and marketing director for Destination St. John's.

"In Canada, we're the one destination that always tends to exceed - we get record attendance numbers," she said.

Destination St. John's is excited about the St. John's Convention Centre's expansion. It says the city has already exceeded expectations for upcoming events. - Photo by Keith Goose/The Telegram

Tourism -

The backbone of the St. John's tourism business appears to be solid for the forseeable future.

Destination St. John's already has large convention bookings for 2016 and 2017.

Far from being hurt by the recession, the city of St. John's actually saw convention bookings increase in 2009 - the only major city to do so, according to Krista Cameron, sales and marketing director for Destination St. John's.

"In Canada, we're the one destination that always tends to exceed - we get record attendance numbers," she said.

Destination St. John's is a private company operated by a consortium of tourism operators on the Avalon, Burin and Bonavista peninsulas.

Convention tourists tend to be in town for a full week attending meetings and seminars, and then frequently extend their stay to explore the island.

An annual convention held in St. John's generally attracts more delegates and sells out sooner than the same convention held in Toronto a year later, because people are looking for a good excuse to visit Newfoundland, St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said

"The tourism industry in the city of St. John's is worth in the vicinity of $300-325 million annually, and a large, large portion of that comes from conventions and annual meetings," he said.

Destination St. John's attends trade shows every year with representatives from hotels, and pays to bring convention planners to visit the city to check the place out.

Cameron said about 90 per cent of the people they bring to town end up choosing St. John's for their event.

"St John's really sells itself. We just add the bells and whistles," she said.

All of this is leading to more bookings further in advance and expanding the convention season.

"Peak season used to be mid-May to mid-October," Cameron said. "We're seeing a growth of the season, where it's starting more in mid-April and going into November in some years."

The Delta hotel, for example, is already sold out for November 2012, Cameron said.

As one of the primary people who books conventions, Cameron said she's looking forward to increasing the city's capacity for conventions and meetings by expanding the St. John's Convention Centre.

A formal announcement is expected in the fall, but there are plans in the works to double its size from 16,000 square feet to 32,000 square feet.

Cameron said they'll also be looking to divide the main room in the convention centre, making it more versatile for different kinds of meetings.

"I can't wait for it," she said, adding that she's not the only one. "Theres a lot of hotels holding land right now, waiting to the convention centre announcement."

O'Keefe said it's actually a little bit embarrassing that with strong bookings - and bookings so many years in advance - that sometimes they have trouble accommodating meetings that want to come here.

"I guess it points to the fact that we need more hotel space," he said.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Delta hotel, St. John's Convention Centre

Geographic location: St. John's, Canada, Toronto Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Cornergirl
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Not just more hotel space- more car rentals

  • Dartmouth Cares
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Congrats to the City of St John's and its forward looking community leaders. We in Halifax envy your progressive approach to economic development. Would it be safe to say that you have found the balance between protecting your heritage and providing modern alternatives to support the economic growth of your downtown core? Clearly you have and well done.

  • Saucy Face
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    robywhy asks: Maybe someone else should take over Mile one and the convention centre. If everyone is busy why is it they still need tax payers money? br br Oh yes robywhy, now that the city has absorbed all the expsense of the lean years, and did all footwork of making the convention centre a sucess, let's get rid of our moneymaker and hand it over lock, stock and barrel to someone in our 'so called private sector' so they can reap the benefts ... Screw that!

  • Jon
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Good news! Looks like the convention centre was a good investment afterall.

  • james
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    and how many convention centers does st,johns have

  • Mr.
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    FIGHTNUTZ.COM has heard from various sources that MMA events may be held at Mile One! I seriously believe that St. John's should eagerly try and make such events happen! Events such as these would bring people from as far as Halifax. The convention center needs exposure and these events will do it! I'd like to know the hold up?

  • John Smith
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Sounds like Dennis himself wrote that last peice of tripe, give me a break, the most inept bunch of imbeciels I have ever seen in my life run this dirty old town.

  • Mark
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Too bad Mile One and the Convention Center lose money every year and taxpayers have to subsidise the buildings. New business plan please.

  • robroy
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Maybe someone else should take over Mile one and the convention centre. If everyone is busy why is it they still need tax payers money?