The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center lights up Market Street. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
The Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) scheduled to take place this month has been cancelled. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

The transformation of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is not just good news for the hundreds of thousands of people who will attend meetings and events there — it’s good news for the livelihoods of every citizen of San Antonio, because of the sheer economic benefits of bringing meetings and visitors to this great city.

The improvements to the convention center have already secured new bookings for several major events in San Antonio, paving the way for even greater benefits for the local economy. In fact, my organization, the U.S. Travel Association, has selected San Antonio as the location for our flagship IPW event in 2023. According to a study from Rockport Analytics, the activity at one IPW event attracts over 1 million new international business and leisure travelers, and generates an additional $891 million for a host city over the next three years.

Travel is one of the main reasons San Antonio has been noted time and again by the Brookings Institution as one of the most recession-proof cities in the United States. Travel currently supports more than 122,500 jobs in the Alamo City — in other words, one out of every eight employed San Antonians. Tourism and hospitality, which includes meetings, events and conferences, is one of the top five industries in San Antonio, generating about $13.4 billion annually for the local economy, and $348 million in state tax revenue.

Business travelers represent 20 percent of the 32.5 million visitors San Antonio welcomes each year. While the city has plenty to offer the millions of seasonal leisure visitors who flock to the River Walk and the World Heritage-designated San Antonio missions, business travelers represent a year-round source of new ideas and support for local companies — not to mention the hotels, restaurants, and shops they patronize while they’re in town. The history, culture and hospitality they encounter while they are here often beckons these same business travelers back for vacations with their families.

Source: DK Shiflett
CATEGORY2014 Metro
Total Visitors32.52
Day Business2.81
Day Leisure9.98
Night Business3.42
Night Leisure16.31

Besides the thousands of jobs they create and the money they save citizens, meetings and conventions give back to the community in other important ways. For example, it’s been reported that when the American Dental Association meets in San Antonio, their Mission of Mercy Clinic provides more than 1,000 local residents with free dental care. Additionally, the revenue generated by these travelers helped give the Spurs a worthy home at the AT&T Center and help build beloved local venues like the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Enhancing the infrastructure that enables San Antonio to host large events and welcome even more travelers, through projects like the convention center renovation, helps the city thrive and compete at the highest levels, and improves the lives of everyone in the community.

The meetings and events travelers attend at the renovated Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center are responsible for creating jobs, stimulating local business development, funding city projects and enriching the culture and vibrancy of San Antonio. I look forward to bringing my association’s marketplace — along with over 6,500 attendees from around the world — to San Antonio, thanks to the smart investment city leaders have made.

Top image: The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center lights up Market Street. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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Roger Dow is President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.