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Tourism—More travelers expected to pack their bags this fall



Sheraton to Expand Conference Center

With $1M Pavilion

Leaders in San Diego’s convention industry are enthusiastic about the just-announced 2008 return of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) , a particularly influential group for choosing convention locations.

Reint Reinders, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, considers ASAE’s plans “a testament to the quality of our convention center, our hotels and our attractions.”

In the announcement about ASAE, Reinders said, “This is a remarkable opportunity not only to showcase San Diego as a premier destination, but also to guarantee valuable dollars and business for San Diego, potentially through 2020.”

ASAE, which came to San Diego for the first time in August 1999, is known across the meetings industry as the largest gathering of association executives and convention and meeting planners. Most ASAE delegates are responsible for choosing facilities and destination for their own groups meetings, conventions and trade shows.

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According to a study released by the San Diego Convention Center Corp., ASAE’s 1999 visit has resulted in more than 15 groups being booked at the center.

Those groups will generate an estimated $231 million in economic benefits, according to the corporation’s estimates.

Of the return appearance, Convention Center Corp. president Carol Wallace said, “ASAE’s positive impression of San Diego and the Convention Center are a reflection of the quality, service, flexibility we provide for our clients and our guests.”

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Fall Forecast: A record travel season is expected this fall, according to a forecast from the Travel Industry Association of America.

Americans are expected to take 154.9 million person-trips this fall, according to TIA. A person-trip is one person who travels 50 miles or more, one way.

More than 75 percent of travelers in 1999, which came to 77 percent of those surveyed last year, said they are planning to travel more this fall, TIA said. Nearly half said they will travel the same amount this fall, but 18 percent said they will travel more this year.

Twenty percent of those who plan to travel will do so for business or conventions, up 3.5 percent from last year. Also, 84 percent plan to travel for leisure reasons, which is an increase of 3.2 percent. Nine percent will travel for other reasons, TIA said.

The figure indicates that U.S. travel is still very popular, said William S. Norman, TIA’s president and CEO. ” It also shows once again that the strength of the U.S. economy and consumer confidence seems to be more than enough to counter higher travel-related prices,” he said.

New Pavilion: The Four Points Hotel Sheraton San Diego plans to build a 7,500-square-foot pavilion that will cost more than $1 million, said Nabih Geha, who manages the Kearny Mesa property. According to the plan, the pavilion will hold more than 700 people. It will be adjacent to the hotel’s current conference center.

The project is expected to be completed in January 2001. At that time, it will boost the hotel’s space inventory to more than 14,000 square feet.

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Checking In: SeaWorld San Diego welcomed its 100,000,000th visitor on Friday, Sept. 29. The park opened in 1964. Encinitas firm Dudek & Associates will be consulting on the Indian Lakes Resort, a project that recently won approval from Indio City Council officials. An estimated 1,000 people attended Yacht Fest last month, topping the first-time event’s expected attendance of 600, said chair David Roscow.

The deadline for the next tourism & hospitality column is Oct. 12. Rodrigues can be reached at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 107, or via E-mail at trodrigues@sdbj.com.

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