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All Things Travel: A Great Year For Travel In Boston

BOSTON (CBS) - That was the message delivered to 300 hotel executives at Outlook 2013, the annual look ahead at travel and tourism trends hosted by The Massachusetts Lodging Association at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on July 10.

The idea was conceived by Jon Crellin, then a sales manager at the Omni Parker House Hotel. Crellin is now the General manager of the Boston Harbor Hotel. The idea is to give hotel and lodging marketing managers background and trends as they prepare their marketing plans for the following year.

The key to filling hotels in Boston is the so-called city-wide convention group that attracts over 2,000 attendees. They will be down next year.

Such an event this year is the Global Business Travel Association Annual Conference that will bring about 7,000 visitors to the city for five days starting July 22.

"2.5 years from the bottom of the recession, we are experiencing a consistent and steady recovery," said Greg Bialecki, Secretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for Massachusetts. "We are adding jobs in all sectors."

Bialecki singled out travel and tourism as especially strong areas of growth. In the budget signed by Governor Patrick on Sunday, state tourism dollars were increased for the new fiscal year.

Beth Stehley of The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau pointed to an important change in state law easing entertainment done by companies for the medical profession at medical conferences.

Presentations by The Pinnacle Advisory Group indicated that conference room numbers would be down next year, but smaller and tighter scheduling were bright spots for the hotel industry.

Pinnacle indicated that both the overall occupancy rate at local hotels and room rates would be slightly higher next year.

Massachusetts Convention Authority Director Jim Rooney made their first presentation to the group.

Bob Weiss

Rooney said that the Authority had pledged $5 million dollars to the Mass. Office of Travel & Tourism for international marketing next year. He also said that plans were underway for expansion of the waterfront convention center and more hotels nearby.

The major hotel expansion next year will come from three Residence Inns in Chelsea, the Fenway area of Boston and the waterfront.

Two somewhat surprising topics not discussed by any of the speakers were the important role that record international travel has played through the efforts of Massport and the impact of the proposed casinos in Massachusetts.

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