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NEWS|July 27 2021

July Newsletter: Project milestone comes with positive signs for travel and tourism

Photo credit: Tim Rice

Hello,

The Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition—also known as the Summit building—is one year from completion. In June, Addition crews hoisted the final beam onto the steel structure, officially “topping out” the building.

The moment marked a significant milestone for both construction of the building and economic recovery. The Addition will be a critical tool for the health of the hospitality sector, which employs about 80,000 people in King County. The topping out also was an opportunity to celebrate the project’s workers, nearly one-third of whom are minorities and about 18 percent of whom are apprentices. And it came as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease, spurring optimism about the return of vibrance to the region.

When completed in 2022, the Addition will draw conventiongoers, tourists and locals to surrounding businesses, driving vital economic activity in Seattle’s downtown core. Below are some of the opportunities to anticipate as the Addition nears opening.

A Strong Future for Conventions

In the five years prior to the start of construction, WSCC turned away as much business as it booked due to space or schedule constraints. When the Addition operates at capacity, it is anticipated to generate an estimated $260 million per year in visitor spending and create 2,300 permanent jobs at the facility and in hospitality-related businesses.

The future already looks promising for conventions. Currently, there are 32 events confirmed for the Addition through 2026. Visit Seattle’s Convention Sales team bid on 20 future events for WSCC in April 2021 alone. To put this number in perspective, April 2021 monthly leads were greater than pre-pandemic leads in six months of 2019 and in nearly all of 2018. Visit Seattle and WSCC anticipate similar opportunities in the coming months.

Return of Tourism

The pandemic flattened tourism nearly everywhere. But recent travel sentiment surveys indicate travelers nationwide are eagerly making vacation plans. For example, 87 percent of American travelers expect to take trips this summer, be it a vacation, visiting friends or relatives, business trip or a conference. Likewise, 60 percent feel safe traveling outside of their community and 89 percent already have plans to travel in the next six months.

Creating Opportunity and Advancing Recovery

The return of conventions to downtown Seattle will expand opportunities for workers and for unique experiences with local businesses. Downtown hotel revenues have already surpassed March 2020 levels, and, according to Visit Seattle research, 65 percent of U.S. travelers say they feel safe dining in local restaurants and shopping in stores. As pandemic travel restrictions continue to relax, small businesses in Seattle should expect continued business growth as the Addition prepares to open.

Prior to the pandemic, Angela Shen, founder of Savor Seattle, touted the positive effects of conventions on local businesses.

“Anytime there’s a big convention that brings people to town, they’re bringing money to the table,” she said in 2019. “They spend time and money on room stays, our retail core, and everything our small businesses have to show here in Seattle.”

The Addition Team
Open for business 2022.

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