3,500 Attendees Head to Charlotte for a Major Convention Promoting Group Travel and Tourism
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 21, 2012) – Rolling in with the New Year is an impactful convention that puts Charlotte on the map for more than 3,500 group tour and travel professionals. The 35th Annual American Bus Association (ABA) Marketplace runs Jan. 5 – 9, full of action-packed events that demonstrate the tourism opportunities across the region and state.
Tourism is a valuable economic engine for Charlotte because it generates more than $4.1 billion in direct tourism spending in Mecklenburg County alone. ABA attendees are among the key decision makers who influence where traveler’s visit and how those dollars are spent. A single motorcoach visit to the region can generate up to $11,660 for the local economy in lodging, meals and other spending. Motorcoaches also represent more than 751 million passenger trips across the U.S. annually.
“Charlotte is a great city and it was easy to come back to. This is our second Marketplace here in just the last five years and this really is an endorsement of the great work done by everyone associated with the city. In that short time, so much about the downtown and the city have changed with the addition of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, new restaurants and many other attractions, I know our ABA members will have a fabulous time here,” says ABA President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS.
Marketplace first visited the region in 2009 but seeks a return visit to explore new hotel and dining additions as well as attractions such as the Levine Center for the Arts, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the fully renovated Discovery Place. The convention gives the region an opportunity to highlight its best attractions, venues, restaurants and hotels to encourage group business to return time and time again.
“We want to show off the very best Charlotte has to offer so that we can encourage these operators to come back, bring their customers and impact the economy,” says Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) Vice President of Sales, Visit Charlotte Executive Director Mike Butts. “They’ll experience Charlotte’s versatility for groups firsthand; everything from culture to motorsports to cuisine.”
To catch the action happening at ABA, here’s a full lineup of photo opportunities:
Opening Ceremony (Sunday, Jan. 6; 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.) The Opening Ceremony in the Crown Ballroom adjacent to the Charlotte Convention Center and the NASCAR Hall of Fame seeks to rev up the crowd by featuring NASCAR President Mike Helton who will offer a look at the strides the sport is making and the impact it holds on ABA businesses.
ABA Press Conference (Saturday, Jan. 5; 11:30 a.m.) DePaul University of Chicago will release its annual report showing the sixth consecutive year of growth in departures for the curbside segment of the motorcoach industry. The Director of DePaul’s Chaddick Institute Professor Joseph P. Schwieterman, along with ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso and ABA Chairman Tom JeBran will present the report and take questions from reporters. The press conference will take place on the Marketplace Floor at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Marketplace Networking Floor (Sunday, Jan. 6 – Wed., Jan. 9; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) In addition to valuable destination marketing organizations and group travel resources, a Product Pavilion with the latest cutting-edge motorcoaches will be set up on the exhibit floor of the Charlotte Convention Center offering operators the opportunity to view the industry’s latest products and services. Look for the host booth, Visit Charlotte, and how they’ll be showing ABA attendees why ‘Charlotte’s got a lot.’
The Big Sh’Bang at Discovery Place (Sunday, Jan. 6; 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.) North Carolina’s Division of Tourism invites ABA attendees to explore the fully renovated Discovery Place, a new addition since Marketplace last visited in 2009. Guests will be greeted by “mad scientists” and have the opportunity to explore all of the exhibits featured in North Carolina’s second most visited attraction.
Marketplace Gives Back (Sunday, Jan. 6; 9:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.) ABA teams compete at Park Lanes on Montford Drive to raise money for Charlotte’s local charity, A Child’s Place, which works to erase the impact of homelessness on children and their education. Since 2007, Marketplace Gives Back has raised more than $202,000 for local charities in the convention cities they visit.
Rev It Up at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (Monday, Jan. 7; 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.) Also a new landmark since ABA’s last visit to the Queen City, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will show off the city’s fast lane and its rich motorsports heritage. Junior Johnson, one of the pioneer moonshine runners who shaped the beginnings of NASCAR, will be on hand to provide attendees with samples of his signature Midnight Moon moonshine and autographs.
“We’ve tried very hard to create an environment where our delegates can meet and book business and network, have a great return on investment and also have a lot of fun as well as experiencing many of the things that make Charlotte unique,” says ABA President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS.