Bureau Has Good Booking Year

June 4, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Despite closing with a recession, 2001 was still a good year for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and DeVos Place — the new downtown convention facility that will replace the Grand Center.

The CVB reported it booked 101 conventions this year that will take place over the next five years, and will bring 124,000 delegates and $19.5 million worth of economic impact here over that period. The result of those bookings means that hotel room nights are up 23 percent from last year.

CVB President Steve Wilson felt that the new $219 million convention center was largely responsible for the rise in room nights.

“We would not have booked most of these groups without it. This new facility is placing Grand Rapids on the map as a preferred destination site for many new and retuning groups nationwide,” said Wilson.

The bureau booked a trio of major conventions this year. The Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association, which left the Grand Center in 1997 because of space limitations, signed a three-year contract with DeVos Place for 2005, 2006, and 2007. The American Philatelic Society will bring the nation’s largest stamp show here in 2005, and the Primerica Training Conference will meet at Van Andel Arena next year.

Other findings from the CVB for 2001 included:

  • Golf Grand Rapids had a 19 percent increase over last year, as 743 golfers came here as a result of the bureau’s promotion. The visitors booked 2,517 tee times this year, up 83 percent from 2000.

  • Triple Treat, another CVB promotion, sold 948 tickets in 2001 — 60 percent more than last year.

  • The CVB’s Web site, www.visitgrandrapids.org, had 5.53 million hits this year, a 70 percent jump from 2000.

  • 299 motorcoach groups booked visits this year worth $2.23 million to the county.

  • 191 newspapers and magazines wrote travel articles about Grand Rapids in 2001.

The bureau closed its Visitor Information Center at 134 Monroe Center on Dec. 28, and will re-emerge in DeVos Place when that building opens in early 2004. The Dog Pit, a popular downtown eatery, will occupy the center’s space and will carry the CVB brochures.

The new year will mark the bureau’s 75th year of operation. The private nonprofit group is funded by Kent County, the city of Grand Rapids, hotel and motel operators and member businesses.           

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