Spokane Journal of Business

INW tourism marketers expect modest to strong growth


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Cheryl Kilday, president and CEO of Visit Spokane, says the tourism-promotion organization is expecting modest growth in tourism here in 2018.

“We’ve got a good number of convention groups coming in,” Kilday says. “Since the expansion of the Spokane Convention Center followed by the opening of the new (Davenport Grand) hotel, 2018 will be year four of growth.”

“We’re starting to see in 2018 bigger groups than we used to be able to attract,” she says.

Kilday says some of the convention groups Visit Spokane has helped schedule include the National Association of Scientific Materials Managers, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Regarding the latter group, which will bring 1,000 women business owners here, Kilday says, “We have a strong local chapter that hosted a regional event and said, ‘Let’s go for national.’ Spokane showed well in the scale of women business owners compared to some of the other competitor cities. That will provide us additional opportunities.”

Spokane also will host several education conferences and a couple of large religious groups, she says.

Kilday says she doesn’t have 2017 numbers yet to use as a base to calculate 2018 projections, but she expects overall tourism and leisure spending “will be a little higher.”

Eric Sawyer, Spokane Sports Commission president and CEO, says 2018 is looking like it will be a banner year for the sports-tourism sector.

“We were lucky enough to secure a number of events that translate to one of the biggest impact years we’ve had through sports tourism,” Sawyer says. “Based on what we’ve accomplished there’s going to be 63,000 hotel stays, up from 51,000 this year.”

That will translate into an economic impact of $63 million in 2018, up from $54 million this year, he claims.

Next June will be a month of combat sports, with three consecutive major tournaments—taekwondo, judo, and wrestling—scheduled at the convention center, he says.

The Pan American Taekwondo Championships will translate into more than 5,000 hotel stays and an economic impact of $5 million, Sawyer asserts. The USA Judo national and international Junior Olympics championships will add $1.8 million to the economy here, he says, adding the USA Wrestling Cadet National Duals championship tournament will bring $2 million to the economy.

Matt Jensen, director of sales and marketing for the four-hotel Davenport Hotel Collection, anticipates 2018 will be a strong year for the Davenport Grand, which is enjoying 20 percent revenue growth this year, the second year of operation for the 716-room hotel.

He says the hotel and Spokane received national and international exposure through the Porsche Club of America convention it hosted last July.

“The hope is to get more groups like that to come, and Spokane is on a good track for that right now,” he says.

Jensen says Aglow International, an interdenominational Christian organization, is expected this month to book a convention for October 2018.

“That’s considered very short term,” he says. “Were just wrapping up the details.”

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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