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Meetings and Conventions Mean Jobs and Boost to Economy

February 17, 2011 By: George Dooley

The U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, a $106 billion contribution to GDP, $263 billion in spending, and $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to a new study from the Convention Industry Council, The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy.

"As the nation grapples with effective ways to work its way out of a recession, the meetings industry plays a critical role in supporting jobs in communities across America, creating environments that foster innovation, consensus and business success," said Karen Kotowski, the executive director of the Convention Industry Council, the trade organization which unites the meetings sector. "Two years ago, the value of meetings, one of America’s top economic and social engines, was misunderstood by governments and the public. This new research quantifies the economic significance of our sector for legislators, regulators and economists alike,."

The 1.7 million jobs generated by the meetings industry is larger than many U.S. industries, including broadcasting and communications (1.3 million), truck and rail transportation industries (1.5 million) and computer and electronic product manufacturing (1.1 million), the study reports. The industry’s 1.7 million jobs generate $60 billion in labor income and support another 4.6 million workers, including industry suppliers and those who rely on meeting output for sales and revenue.

Spending on goods and services resulting from meetings and events in the U.S. totals $263 billion. The majority of direct spending, $151 billion, is related to meeting planning and production, venue rental and other non‐travel and tourism related commodities; $113 billion is spent each year on lodging, food service, transportation and other travel and tourism commodities.

The meetings and events sector supports both jobs and spending in allied U.S. industries, including professional meeting organizers and venues, food and beverage, accommodation, transportation, recreation/entertainment, retail, travel services and more.

The $263 billion in spending generated $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. And meetings’ $106 billion contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than, for example, auto manufacturing ($78 billion), performing arts/spectator sports/museums ($71 billion) and information and data processing services ($76 billion).

"The results of our comprehensive research demonstrate the significance of the meetings industry as a major contributor to the U.S. economy," said Robert Canton, director of convention and tourism practice at PwC US. "New and proven research standards, as well as definitions provided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization allowed for the measurement of U.S. economic activity resulting from face‐to‐face meetings."

A total of 205 million people, representing domestic and international delegates, exhibitors and organizers attend the 1.8 million meetings. The meetings serve as vehicles for job training and education, generating sales revenue, linking domestic and foreign buyers and developing lasting relationships in personal environments that build trust and unity.

"Working side‐by‐side creates dynamic environments where handshakes convert to commerce, insight translates to innovation and knowledge sharing creates a better educated and more competitive workforce," added Kotowski.

Of the 1.8 million meetings, 1.3 million are classified as corporate or business meetings, 270,000 are conventions, conferences or congresses, 11,000 are trade shows and 66,000 are incentive meetings. The vast majority of meetings (85 percent) were conducted at venues with lodging. Meetings generate 250 million overnight stays by 117 million Americans and 5 million international attendees.

Including direct, indirect and induced contributions, meetings activity provides $907 billion in total economic output to the U.S. economy. Total economic output also includes a $458 billion value‐added contribution to GDP, 6.3 million full‐time and part‐time jobs, $271 billion in labor income including wages and salaries, benefits and proprietors’ income, $64 billion in federal tax revenue and $46 billion in state and local tax revenue.



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By George Dooley | February 17, 2011
Meetings and conventions can convert handshakes into commerce and result in innovation.
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