City tallies record year in sales, taxes despite Sept. 11

The Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau chalked up a record year in 2001 despite some meeting cancellations and poor attendance during the prime fall convention season.

The city reported record bed tax receipts of $10.9 million, up from $10.8 million in 2000, ACVB officials said. About $5.5 million of the bed taxes go the city general fund. The other half fund ACVB’s marketing functions.

"We had a good year in 2001," said President and Chief Executive Bruce Bustamante during ACVB’s monthly luncheon at the Egan Civic & Convention Center Jan. 17.

The organization reported tourism sales of $86.5 million from tourism operators tracked by ACVB, compared with $80.6 million recorded in 2000. ACVB listed 442,009 hotel room night stays last year, up from 399,000 during 2000.

However, ACVB’s total conventions held in 2001 dropped to $81 million from $82.3 million in 2000. The organization estimates about $3 million was lost or failed to meet expectations for those events due to some convention cancellations and poor attendance at other events that went on despite the East Coast terrorist attacks. Before the cancellations, the conventions held in the 2001 category total would have surpassed 2000’s figures, he said.

"We were on track for a record year," Bustamante said.

Of the total number of conventions in Anchorage last year, 58 percent were national or regional events while 42 percent were in-state events, he said. ACVB worked with 617 conventions last year, down from 778 conventions in 2000.

Convention sales during 2001 totaled $78.2 million, up from $70.3 million in 2000, ACVB reported. ACVB uses the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus’ formula for convention economic impact. IACVB estimates that a national conference delegate spends $839.53 per trip and a state conference delegate spends $405.39 per trip.

"In 2001 we secured business as far out as 2006," Bustamante said.

Several events contributed to the strong economic impact ACVB reported for 2001. Last March the city hosted the state’s largest event ever, the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which attracted 10,000 athletes, coaches and other visitors, Bustamante said. The games recorded an estimated economic impact in Alaska of $3.8 million including $200,000 in revenue to the city general fund from bed and rental car taxes, he noted.

Last year 42 percent of conventions sold or those events booked in 2001 for upcoming events were state events and 39 percent were national or regional conventions or meetings, he said.

Several repeat events were sold last year, including the 2002 event for the Credit Union Conference with 230 delegates. The group last met in Anchorage in 1996, he said.

ACVB is the state’s largest business membership organization and tallied 1,319 members at year-end 2001, down from 1,394 in 2000, the group reported.

ACVB officials developed 2002 goals before September and didn’t revise its objectives after Sept. 11, he said. The group aims to sell $83 million in conventions, meetings and events in Anchorage in the future. Last year’s goal was $77 million, he said.

Events booked for 2002 look strong, and ACVB is working with meeting planners to maximize attendance, he said.

Goals for the leisure travel market will match 2001’s $84 million goal, he said. A $12.5 million request to the Legislature by the Alaska Travel Industry Association would help ACVB’s marketing efforts. Other states have received similar appropriations for travel marketing, he added.

"With the uncertainty of the leisure market, we know we have our work cut out for us," Bustamante said. "We have a dynamic team, and we’re going to do our very best to achieve our goal."

He asked audience members to help achieve these goals and boost Alaskans’ awareness on tourism’s economic impact.

"We’ve got some big goals so it will take a collaborative effort," he said.

01/27/2002 - 8:00pm