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CIC CEO Responds to Recent Washington Post Column Questioning the Value of Investing in the New Convention Center Hotel and the Overall Value of the Meetings Industry

July 01, 2014

Dear Editor, 

I am not sure whether Steven Pearlstein’s reference to the CIC as Convention Industrial Complex in his June 29th article (“Debunking the conventional wisdom about conventions”) was meant to be a reference to our organization, the Convention Industry Council (CIC), or a coincidental choice of words to explain the expansion of convention centers and hotels.

If you are not familiar with us, we are a federation of 33 membership organizations that represent every facet of the global meetings industry. We promote a strong, healthy meetings and conventions industry as well as the benefits of face to face business and commerce.

Your article only considers impacts of the expanded convention center and new Marriott Marquis in terms of hotel room nights generated, and you dismiss the impacts of spending, taxes and jobs generated by meetings.

Our own national study found that total direct spending associated with U.S. meetings activity in 2012 was estimated at over $280 billion. While approximately $130 billion or 46 percent of the direct spending in the meetings industry is on travel and tourism commodities such as lodging, the majority of direct spending, $150 billion or 54 percent involving meeting planning and production costs, venue rental, and other non-travel related expenditures.

Total output (including indirect and induced impacts) in 2012 related to meetings activity is estimated at $770.4 billion, while the total contribution to GDP was $393.8 billion. Meetings activity in 2012 supported approximately 5.3 million jobs and generated $234.6 billion in labor income, that’s paychecks and money in workers’ pockets.

And the public return was this---approximately $50.8 billion in federal taxes and an additional $37.9 billion at the state and local level were returned to public coffers, from personal income, excise, custom duty, social insurance contribution, corporate income, property, sales, and other taxes.

The economic benefit of the meetings industry goes way beyond the black and white picture painted in your piece. Not only do meetings support commerce, professional development, employee engagement and advancement in every industry, they put money back into local communities and are a driver of job growth.

Sincerely, 

Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP
Chief Executive Officer

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