Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Tourism bureaus are becoming bullish again


Courtesy Cheyenne CVB
Many convention and visitors bureaus are displaying an optimistic view when evaluating what to expect from local conventions, events and tourism in 2012. Take Charlotte, N.C., for example.

“We’ll host the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September. We also have the American Bus Association, one of the largest industry shows, coming next January. So Charlotte is looking good in the next year,” reported an enthusiastic Stephanie Grocki, the CVB’s group tourism manager.

“We’re getting our name out more as a destination and building several new tours to offer to operators, such as experiential and culinary tourism. Many operators have asked, so we’re pushing them. We’re hoping 2012 will be really good, and definitely good in 2013,” Grocki said.

On the West Coast, Southern California’s Orange County is also optimistic. Orange County, a key destination for leisure and business travel, attracted 42.9 million visitors in 2011, a minor increase from 2010’s visitor figures. However, visitor spending in 2011 was up 4.7 percent.

“2011 benefited from growth in business travel and an increase in overnight visitors in Orange County hotels — nearly 450,000 additional visitors than the year before,” said Skip Hull, vice president of CIC Research, a marketing, economics and survey firm that tracked Orange County’s numbers in 2011.

Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County CVB, predicted the area is poised for another year of growth. “With the opening of Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land this summer, visitors are sure to flock to this region,” said Ahlers.

Anaheim is the hub of Orange County’s tourism industry and home to Disneyland Resort, the Anaheim Convention Center and professional sports teams. Anaheim’s visitor numbers are staggering. The city and its attractions welcomed 16.3 million visitors, who spent about $4.45 billion. That’s 2.5 percent more visitors and 6 percent more spending than in 2010.

“Orange County’s tourism outlook for 2012 indicates moderate growth in hotel visitors and a beginning recovery in leisure day visitors,” said Ahlers.

Tiny compared with Orange County but blessed with plenty of natural wonders, Cheyenne, Wyo., expects a rebound in 2012. Cheyenne sits at the important western intersection of interstates 80 and 25, providing easy north-south and east-west travel. And don’t forget the gorgeous scenery.

Travelers to the region visit Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks; Devil’s Tower; and the Black Hills. “It’s a nice neighborhood to be in,” said Darren Rudloff, CVB president and CEO, with a laugh. In recessionary times, Rudloff said, Cheyenne is “the real America, only less expensive.”

His CVB is cautiously optimistic for 2012. “We just returned from the American Bus Association and National Tour Association meetings, and there’s enthusiasm among operators. Last year, we saw a nice increase in inquiries about our area from motorcoach companies,” Rudloff said.

Cheyenne had a reasonably good tourism year in 2011 without doing anything significantly different in marketing group travel. Maybe its luck will hold up. “Just steady as it goes,” Rudloff said.