With a strong commitment to positively impacting the community, the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau (RCVB) has strengthened efforts to develop, market, and sell Rochester as an exceptional destination for visitors.

As described in the RCVB's 2017 Annual Report to the Community, released today, the Bureau and its hospitality industry partners are succeeding in stepped-up efforts to position Rochester as a vibrant, world-class destination for visitors while stimulating economic growth and improving quality-of-life throughout the community.

"Rochester hosted more than 3 million overnight visitors in Rochester in 2016, and the overall economic impact of visitors on the community was $1.3 billion," said Brad Jones, executive director of the RCVB. "Specifically, the RCVB and our partners have been very successful in achieving one of our major goals: attracting more and bigger conventions and events to the beautiful new convention venues at the expanded Mayo Civic Center. We are experiencing high levels of renewals of long-term customers and a 32% increase in new bookings as a result of the center's outstanding new convention facilities," Jones said.

According to Jones, future bookings of conventions and events generated by the recent investment in the new convention facilities is expected to generate an estimated $15.5 million in new visitor spending in 2018 and an estimated $17.2 million in new visitor spending in 2019, Jones said. "These are new incremental dollars for local businesses, generated when new visitors stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and shop in our stores," Jones said.

Highlights of the RCVB's efforts and results include:

Sales Successes.
• The RCVB's sales department is responsible for fulfilling sales and marketing responsibilities for Mayo Civic Center. In 2016, the sales team exceeded goals for number of events sold by 18% (384 actual events), Mayo Civic Center revenue by 16% ($3.6 million in actual revenue), and total leads generated by 13% (565 actual leads).
• During 2016, sales efforts generated over $3.5 million in future Mayo Civic Center revenue and $44 million in estimated economic impact for future Mayo Civic Center events.
• Markets targeted heavily for events at the expanded Mayo Civic Center include: Medical/Healthcare, Technology, Religion, and National Associations. Some examples of new bookings for 2018 include:
o 2018 Botanical Society of America Annual Conference - 1,200 attendees, $1.3M economic impact
o 2018 American Society of Biomechanics Annual Conference - 900 attendees, $740K economic impact
o 2018 World Congress of Bronchology - 675 attendees, $997K economic impact

Visitor Experience Enhancements.
• More than 1,500 local individuals have been trained as Rochester Certified Tourism Ambassadors, with 241 completing the CTA program in 2016. The CTA program is a nationwide certification program specifically customized for Rochester volunteers, hospitality professionals, and anyone involved in serving visitors. The program was launched by the RCVB in 2011 and celebrated its five-year anniversary in 2016.
• The MyRochesterExperience.com visitor survey was a valuable tool for the RCVB and local hospitality industry businesses in 2016. Read major findings of an analysis of the second-year results of the data here.

Destination Development Update & Priorities.
• Rochester added 211 new hotel rooms to its hotel inventory in 2016, bringing the citywide total room count to 5,945 at 58 lodging establishments. Several new hotels will open in 2018 and 2019.
• Some of the RCVB's destination development priorities moving forward include:
o Support Mayo Civic Center Arena and Graham Park redevelopment plans
o Plan for the continued growth of air service at Rochester International Airport
o Develop additional visitor attractions, entertainment, and things to do
o Address growing transportation and parking needs for visitors
o Support plans to develop Rochester's hospitality industry workforce needs
o Strengthen the Rochester destination brand by expanding efforts and new product offerings in medical, health, and wellness tourism

Strong Positive Impact on Quality-of-Life for Local Residents.
• The RCVB's success in attracting overnight visitors attending conventions, meetings, and sports events in Rochester triggers major economic benefits and supports improved quality-of-life throughout the community.
• Hosting conventions, meetings, and sports events helps sustain hospitality businesses, as well as public and private venues.
• The quantity and quality of Rochester's restaurants and entertainment options is made possible in part by visitors and could not be supported by the city's population base alone.

"It's the people who live and work in Rochester that make our city an exceptional destination for visitors," Jones says. "We appreciate the efforts made by our community to be welcoming and inclusive of our visitors. Our most recent visitor survey results show that nine out of 10 of our visitors would recommend Rochester as a destination. It's a community-wide effort to achieve such an honor, and we want to celebrate and share the credit!"

To view the full report to the community containing the RCVB's 2016 efforts and results, please click here.

The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official marketing agency for the city of Rochester, responsible for destination sales and marketing efforts. The RCVB works to encourage conventions, meetings, sporting events and business travel to Rochester and provides travel-planning support for the patients of Mayo Clinic. The Convention & Visitors Bureau offers comprehensive information about lodging, dining, special events, activities and local attractions. For more information, www.VisitRochesterMN.com, @rahrahrochester on Twitter, VisitRochesterMN on Facebook.