Skip to main content
Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Apr. 29, 2021 1 year ago

Convention center's growth spurred by picking up events looking for a new home

Events relocating to Tampa help fuel convention center resurgence.

As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

While in no way is it dealing with trash, that age-old adage seems to apply to the Tampa Convention Center.

The downtown hub is having an almost post-pandemic resurgence fueled, in part, by bringing in events relocating from other cities. Of the 15 events scheduled between June and October, five are moving from other locations.

And those five are pretty big, including taking the National Conference of Legislators from Chicago, the American Academy of Dermatology from New York and the Teen Action Summit from Washington, D.C.

Not included on the list is WrestleMania 37 held in early April. That was originally scheduled for Los Angeles before moving to Tampa.

The five events at the convention center, including one mysteriously listed in a press release from Visit Tampa Bay as a “confidential event” in July are expected to bring an additional $8.6 million in economic impact to the area, drawing 10,600 visitors and adding 24,254 room nights, according to figures provided by the convention center.

In all, the 15 events between July and October are expected to draw more than 62,000 visitors and 80,186 room nights for a total economic impact of $40.33 million. 

“The Tampa Convention Center is open for business,” convention center and tourism director Una Garvey boasts in a celebratory press release.

She says that relationships, promotional campaigns and “co-hosting” Super Bowl LV “are leading the way toward the recovery of our industry as our guests return to the business of convening.”

While the future seems upbeat, the tourism industry is still trying to bounce back after a devastating 2020 in Tampa that’s bled into 2021.

According to a March report from Visit Tampa Bay, tourist development tax collections for January totaled $2.7 million — a 36.31% decrease over January 2020. That brings total collections for the first five months of the fiscal year to $9.86 million, a 40.95% decrease over the previous year. 

The issue is not just in Tampa. The number of people visiting Florida dropped 34% in 2020 according to Visit Florida.

Yet, the people tasked with selling Tampa as the perfect vacation destination are optimistic about the future.

“The deficit continues to get smaller and it will continue to improve as we see vaccination rates climb and events such as Super Bowl LV are included,” Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, says in the statement. “The key to our full recovery is bringing back meetings and we are confident that with upcoming citywides, board meetings such as US Travel and Destinations International and multiple relocated events we are on the right track.”

Related Stories