2018 came to a very busy end, and 2019 is in full swing with 11 citywide conventions being held in the first two months of the year.
As President & CEO, it's important to me that you take pride in your San Diego Convention Center. The work our team does in collaboration with meeting and event planners is truly life-changing. When I'm asked what we do, I explain that we build or facilitate the building of a "small city" within our city. These small cities that rise up become the most important week of our customers' lives. They serve as major fundraisers for associations, funding education and advocacy initiatives for their members. Then, we break that city down, and do it all over again for our next customer.
These events generate economic benefits for the region: from restaurants, hotels and retailers, to our major attractions. You may live here every day, but for our guests, coming to San Diego is an experience!
Let's take for example the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, taking place this week. Their 55th Annual Meeting is considered the pre-eminent educational event in cardiothoracic surgery, offering timely and relevant educational sessions, as well as more translational science and hands-on activities than any other meeting of its kind.
It also includes a separate Tech-Con day where new technology is unveiled prior to FDA approval. Education is offered for all members of the cardiothoracic surgical team, and more than 100 companies and other organizations are represented on the exhibit floor.
Just where do these estimated 4,000 attendees come from, and more importantly, how excited are they about our destination? They made a video showcasing just that and we invite you to watch it. Here's a hint: they come from over 60 countries!
As I mentioned, we closed 2018 with one of the largest events of the calendar and fiscal year. In December of 2018, the American Society of Hematology - or ASH - came to San Diego. This event is life-changing indeed. Not only does it generate an incredible regional economic impact, it also puts San Diego on the map for research and science.
ASH set an attendance record with close to 30,000 attendees to San Diego at the start of December. In addition, their event generated new business for the San Diego International Airport, resulting in a first-time Air France direct flight from Paris to San Diego! There were so many international guests that a flight was contracted out to get those doctors and researchers to San Diego for this year's meeting.
A total of 84 hotels were used in the hotel block and international attendance was over 50 percent international. The meeting generated an estimated regional impact of $82.5 million.
ASH has been a returning customer since 1997 and this year they had to utilize some "out-of-the-box" design options. We produced a video about that which you can watch here.
In fact, one of the event's first-time attendees wrote an article on his own about his experience. His words showcase what our industry really does. At the end of the day, your San Diego Convention Center provides a platform for organizations to change the world and changes people’s lives.
This happens because our city, as a destination, is working together. Each of us plays a role in our tourism economy. We are an ecosystem.
From the San Diego International Airport, to the San Diego Tourism Authority, the Port of San Diego, the City of San Diego, our hotel partners and business and community organizations like the San Diego Economic Development Corporation and Downtown San Diego Partnership, together we are fostering a whole package that attracts events rooted in the discovery of global innovative solutions.
- Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe, President & CEO