The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Visitors' bureau reports more conventions coming to Detroit, increase in hotel room bookings

  • Print

DETROIT - A conference of Jehovah's Witnesses later this year is expected to draw 90,000 people to Detroit.

The conference will stretch over two weekends at Ford Field and is an example of how Detroit is becoming more of a destination for conventions, despite the city's recent dive into bankruptcy, according to Larry Alexander, president and chief executive of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Alexander reported Wednesday during an annual meeting that major convention bookings are up this year and 2015.

The bureau hosted five major conventions in 2013 and have 12 booked this year. So far, 11 major conventions are booked in 2015.

About 236,000 room nights — the total number of nights individual rooms are used — have been booked at area hotels for 2014, compared to 129,000 all of last year.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau staff sells and markets Detroit and the region "during the prosperous times and in times where an impending bankruptcy makes our clients hesitant to book their meetings" in Detroit, Alexander said. "Despite those challenges, our bookings have never been better. It's amazing what can be done when we have a quality product to sell."

Detroit's finances are controlled by state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Orr has said the city's debt is at least $18 billion and filed for bankruptcy in July. A federal judge allowed Detroit into Chapter 9 in December, making it the largest U.S. city to enter bankruptcy.

While many of the city's neighbourhoods struggle with blight and crime, Detroit's downtown and Midtown areas continue to grow.

A $279 million renovation and expansion project at the Cobo convention centre, along with new private sector investment downtown and an aggressive marketing campaign by the Convention & Visitors Bureau touting Detroit as "America's great comeback city" are among the reasons for the surge in conventions, Alexander added.

The annual North American International Auto Show recently drew more than 838,000 people to Cobo over two weeks.

About 5,000 people are expected downtown next month when the Nation of Islam holds its The Saviours' Day conference at Cobo. Other conventions and events booked in Detroit include the Automotive Services Association NACE-CARS Industry Week beginning in late July.

In May 2015, 10,000 people are expected to attend the USA Volleyball Open National Championships. The American Society of Association Executives — a group of more than 21,000 trade association, membership societies and volunteer organization executives — will hold its national convention downtown next year.

The Detroit area is at a point where regional co-operation is needed to help improve the city and keep its suburbs strong, said Sue Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit, Inc.

Her organization is involved in community and small-business development, and marketing in Midtown.

"It is the collective whole that people look at when they make the decision: 'I want to invest in Detroit,' or 'I want to go down there. I want to spend a weekend there. I want to go to the hotels,'" Mosey said during a panel discussion Wednesday at the Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting. "They have to feel like somebody is working and connecting all of it together."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

RMTC preview of Good People

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 24, 2012 - 120624  -  Amusement riders on the last day of The Ex Sunday June 24, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that the snow is mostly gone, what are your plans?

View Results

Ads by Google