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Conventions generated nearly 850K hotel bookings last fiscal year

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Convention Center brought in $41 million for the past fiscal year, including $8.7 million in investment income, according to a report presented Thursday to the City Council’s Economic Development Committee.

San Diego Comic-Con was the center’s top event, generating $3.1 million in hotel and sales tax revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Hotel and sales tax revenue totaled $24.5 million in that time period.

With almost 900,000 people attending events at the center this year, guests spent $673.9 million in San Diego, up by $50 million from last year.

In the midst of a hepatitis A outbreak in the city, the center’s President & CEO Clifford Rippetoe did not appear concerned with attendance dropping in the future.

He said the spread of the liver disease has been a “topic of discussion” with people looking to book events, but that they are more concerned with other public safety questions.

“We haven’t seen a drop off on attendees at our shows,” Rippetoe said. “The bigger topic is about public safety with homelessness and other things going on in our country.’

In the past year, events at the center generated 844,000 room nights for area hotels. The overall economic impact on the region was of $1.1 billion, the report said.

Major conventions are planned so far ahead of time that this past year’s sales total included more than 148,000 hotel room nights for Fiscal Year 2030, according to the report.  One in five bookings were to organizations that hadn’t used the bayside meeting facility in the past, including the National Grocers Association and American Geophysical Union.

San Diego Tourism Authority President & CEO Joe Terzi, though, said one of the issues the center faces is limited space in hotels.

“It’s not about having them come to San Diego, but about booking them in San Diego,” Terzi said. “It’s high demand and we are doing our best to maximize the space.”

The center’s data shows about 1.3 million room nights were lost this past fiscal year because of a lack of space or hotels not having preferred dates available to guests.

Despite this concern, the center’s sales team has been able to book nearly 1.1 million room nights for future events. That’s barely below the previous year’s total, but well ahead of years before that, according to the center’s data.

Returning business for future years include 18 medical groups, which are often among the largest conventions in a given year, and whose attendees generally spend the most lavishly on events, restaurants and shopping, according to tourism officials. Among them are the American College of Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine and American Diabetes Association.