VisitPittsburgh Says Conventions Could Drive A Record-Breaking Tourism Year

Aug 13, 2015

A sweltering Steel City summer may be one for the record books, according to VisitPittsburgh Executive Vice President Jason Fulvi. 

The group hosted its annual “Fall Forecast” at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center on Thursday to inform locals of upcoming fall and winter events and to highlight the economic impact of tourists at large. About 130 people attended.

“This event really is an event to make the connection points and connect the events that are happening with the local community to make sure that everybody’s aware of what’s going on and that we engage (visitors) while they’re here,” Fulvi said. “And really, the hope is that they have such a wonderful time while they’re here for one particular event that they come back.”

He estimates more than 11 million overnight visitors spend $5.6 billion in Pittsburgh every year.

And 2015, Fulvi said, was a banner summer. He credited a bump in conventions for making it one of the city's busiest and best in his 28-year tenure.

“The numbers are very strong and we had thousands and thousands of people visiting our community, not only in the convention center and the hotels, but also in our restaurants, and our bars, hitting our attractions and spending money throughout the entire community,” Fulvi said.

Fulvi said the busiest convention year on record should remain strong through the end of the year.

“With the Veteran’s Small Business Engagement in November, that adds a little additional business in November where it would typically be slow," he said. "And then we get right into Light Up Night and the holiday festivities, so the momentum should carry.”

Upcoming conventions for Pittsburgh include: the Collinson Media & Events Connect Marketplace and Connect Sports Marketplace at the end of August, the National Society of Genetic Counselors Convention in October, the National Veterans Small Business Engagement in November and a few others. Each convention brings an estimate 950-4,500 attendees and between $1.2 million and $7.3 million in estimated spending.

The fall’s biggest events include public tours of the LST 325, a World War II ship that was part of the Normandy Armada, from Sept. 2-8. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is having an “India in Focus” event lasting six weeks starting Sept. 25. The Westmoreland Museum of American Art will host a grand re-opening celebration Oct. 24-25.

Also in this year’s itinerary is Light Up Night, which Fulvi called "the hands-down the best event" through the fall and winter months.

“Whether they’re (visitors) a WWII vet or a Vietnam vet, whether they are wearing a spectacular barber shop mustache, whether they’re wearing a fur suit or even kinky boots. When they’re here visiting, you all help remind them of how special this community is,” Fulvi said.