After what tourism officials here say was a banner 2010, with a number of big-impact events, convention activity in the Inland Northwest is expected to undergo a dip next year.
"Spokane has had, from a convention standpoint, with a large number of groups coming here, a really strong year in 2010," says Cheryl Kilday, president of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She adds, however, that meetings and conventions will be down next year. "There is a cycle where conventions come every so many years, and more than the normal number of groups are having their off year next year," she says.
Also, because of the poor economy, larger cities, including Portland and Seattle, will offer reduced rates for travelers, and thus attract some groups that might otherwise have come to Spokane, Kilday says.
In contrast, the family leisure travel market is projected to be strong in 2011.
"This is an area where we are well-suited to make up some of the losses from the lower number of conventions next year," she says.
Overall, the CVB hopes to see higher tourism-related spending here in 2011, because of a more varied mix of travelers coming into the area, Kilday says. She says that although fewer big eventssuch as the U.S. Figure Skating Championship will be held here in 2011, an increase in the number of smaller events and meetings is expected next year.
So far, the CVB has confirmed that 103 conventions will be held in Spokane next year. Together, those events are projected to generate 68,000 room nights and $186 million in spending, says Keith Backsen, the CVB's vice president and director of sales and services.
Meanwhile, Spokane is slated to host nine sizable sporting events in 2011, not counting regional events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest, says Eric Sawyer, CEO of the Spokane Regional Sports Commission.
Sawyer says 2010 has been an outstanding year for such events in Spokane. In addition to the skating championships, the community hosted the American Legion World Series, the USATF Cross Country National Championships, the U.S.A. Trail Running National Championship, and some of the first and second round games of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
Sawyer says one major factor that's helped Spokane draw in such events is the new Group Health Exhibit Hall at the Convention Center, which again will host several major sporting events next year, including the Pacific Northwest Qualifier for volleyball.
Tourism activity also was up in North Idaho this year, and the Coeur d'Alene Convention and Visitors Bureau says it hopes to see the number of visitors there continue to grow next year. Katherine Coppock, its manager, says that receipts from Kootenai County's 2 percent lodging sales tax were up 20 percent this year compared with 2009.
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