Black Meetings and Tourism

November / December 2016

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B M & T ••• November/December 2016 ••• 26 ATLANTIC CTY, NJ Atlantic City is the seaside gaming and resort capital of the East Coast, hosting over 27 million visitors a year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. AC beaches are famous, and rightly so. Everything you could possibly want is right here within walking distance, from shops to five-star restaurants to casinos, attractions and great shows – all benefits of being one of the few American beaches with boardwalks. More than $1.7 billion in investments in recent years has enhanced Atlantic City's magnetic appeal with world- renowned casinos resorts and hotels, big name restaurants featuring famous chefs, unique attractions, headline enter- tainment, luxurious spas, championship golf, elite shopping and more. Local hospitality officials boast that the 600,000-sq. ft. Atlantic City Convention Center is the largest convention center in New Jersey. The facility features: 500,000-sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space; five spacious exhibit halls rang- ing in size from 29,400 sq. ft. to 199,500 sq. ft.; and 45 meet- ing rooms. Located within a few hours' drive of nearly one third of the nation's population and 20 percent of the coun- try's business addresses, the convention center is easily accessible for convention, trade show and meeting atten- dees. When it comes time to turn in for the night, you'll find some superb choices. Atlantic City hotels and resorts offer casino gaming action, amazing views, fine dining and luxuri- ous lodging all under one roof, while bed and breakfasts pro- vide space to recharge and chain hotel rooms offer the most bang for your budget. For example, with three casinos in one, Bally's Atlantic City offers 1,251 hotel rooms, 21 restaurants, and more than 80,000 sq. ft. of meeting and convention facil- ities. For more high-energy action, another option is Caesars Atlantic City, where you'll feel like royalty staying in the newly renovated rooms just steps away from the beach and Boardwalk. With over 135 table games hosting the highest limits in town, Caesars, offering 1,144 rooms, is at the center of all the action! Not interested in gaming? Atlantic City has options for you too! The Chelsea is the first non-gaming hotel to grace the Boardwalk since the 1960s, and this boutique luxury hotel T here are many reasons why a planner will take a closer look at a destination they may have once passed over for a meeting or con- ference. For example, when South Carolina finally resolved their Confederate Flag issue, planners who had previously participated in a boy- cott of the state added the charming city of Charleston back onto their rota- tion list of potential meeting sites. Likewise, when industry icon Roy Jay took a step back from his Oregon Convention & Visitor Services Network to mourn the passing of his beloved wife Juanita and deal with his own personal health issues, he created a void in the Pacific Northwest. African-American planners who repeatedly brought their events to Portland because of Jay's charismatic presence and strong marketing efforts began looking elsewhere in his absence. While waiting for Jay to come back from hiatus, planners began exploring other options in the region, and discovered Tacoma, which is head- ed by Bennish Brown, one of only a handful of African-Americans running a convention and visitors bureau in the US. It wasn't very long ago that Atlantic City's visitor numbers were in decline after a number of local casinos announced they were going out of busi- ness. But with billions being pumped into AC to help rebuild and enhance this seaside hotspot's infrastructure, and the tireless work of Meet AC's President/CEO Jim Wood and his team at the Bureau, Atlantic City's visitor numbers are back on the rise. The reason for renewed interest in the cities being profiled here are as varied as the destinations them- selves. The one constant is that they all fit the definition of emerging mar- kets for meeting planners who are searching for destinations that are the right fit for their next meeting or conference. BY RUFUS MCKINNEY

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