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San Diego Convention Center to Generate $1.2 Billion in Regional Impact in 2018

Medical meetings at the San Diego Convention Center will continue to drive attendance and economic benefits to San Diego this calendar year, resulting in an estimated $1.2 billion in regional impact.

The convention center's business forecast for the year, from January 1 through December, 31, 2018 shows a total of 108 events – 58 citywide conventions, known as primary events, and 50 secondary events - booked at the San Diego Convention Center. These events will bring 862,408 attendees to the facility: that's almost equal to the population of the city of San Francisco.

Primary events (citywide conventions) bring San Diego greater benefits as they consist of out-of-town attendees here for conventions, tradeshows and corporate events that require overnight stays. Secondary events include San Diego-based events or community/consumer shows, and usually do not require overnight stays.

The $27.5 million in estimated tax revenues during 2018 are generated by convention visitors and helps relieve the tax burden on local residents. These revenues pay for important services such as fire and police protection, beach and park maintenance, libraries and street improvements.

"San Diego remains a top meeting and convention destination because it offers an award-winning facility surrounded by more than 13,000 high-quality hotel rooms nearby and an international airport just three miles away," said President & CEO Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe, CFE. "Our convention center is at the heart of a thriving tourism ecosystem that draws visitors to San Diego for a convention, trade show or event, then drives them out into the city to benefit local businesses, shops, restaurants and attractions, creating a 'ripple effect' into the economy that reaches across San Diego County."

Comic-Con International will be the top economic generator of the calendar year, with 130,000 attendees and an estimated $147.1 million in regional impact. It is followed by four medical conventions, including the Society for Neuroscience. That one event alone is estimated to generate $88.8 million, generate 46,850 hotel room nights and bring 30,000 medical and science attendees from around the world. This is the seventh time Neuroscience will be held in San Diego. It was first contracted in 2001, following the convention center's expansion.

The third top economic generator in 2018 will be the American Society of Hematology, another repeat client, with a $79.3 million regional impact, 86,015 hotel room nights and an attendance of 27,000, including international guests.

Medical meetings are especially desirable for a convention center because they attract attendees with more disposable income, perform well in economic downturns and the attendees are more likely to bring their families and stay for vacation. San Diego’s growing innovation economy, biotech and technology sector, international connections with Mexico, and even our world famous craft beer culture, proves the destination is thriving with opportunity for research and business ventures.

Many of these annual events are on a rotation where they cycle through different regions every year, returning to a region every four to six years. The San Diego Convention Center has a 70 percent return business rate.

As for building occupancy, the convention center is expected to hit a 76 percent occupancy rate.

The industry average for occupancy is 50 percent, and at levels above 60 percent, a center is operating close to full capacity and may begin to turn away significant amounts of business.

This calendar year, customers and guests will also experience a brand new Sails Pavilion, with its new concrete flooring and new roof which should be completely installed by mid-February. It's one of several capital improvements that the convention center has been working on since December of 2016. Escalators and elevators are also being upgraded. In addition, the Board of Directors also approved funding for new meeting room chairs, folding chairs, podiums, risers and easels.

"The San Diego Convention Center remains one of the most successful investments San Diego city leaders have made," said Gil Cabrera, Chair of the Corporation's Board of Directors. "For every dollar the City invests, our return on investment is $1.52."

NOTE: The convention center continues to pursue additional bookings throughout the year, so overall numbers are expected to increase as the year progresses.

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Barbara Moreno's picture
Posted by Barbara Moreno, on January 8, 2018
Events, News and Developments


Who made the rendering at the top of the report?


Barbara Moreno's picture

The lead photo in the blog? Or the infographic? Both are credited to the San Diego Convention Center Corp. Thanks for your question!

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