Each year, tens of thousands of visitors come to Boise. They dine in our restaurants, shop at our stores, and ride with our taxi drivers.
Many, of course, come to visit friends and family. But others come as part of organized groups: business meetings, conventions, sports tournaments, reunions and other events. Why choose Boise? Many reasons, not the least of which is the tireless work of the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This year marks the 30th anniversary for the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVB). The BCVB operates as the citys de facto marketing arm, working with meeting and event planners from around the country, even around the world, to convince them to bring their groups and their dollars to Boise.
Tourism has grown to a multimillion-dollar industry in Boise, spreading out-of-towner spending among hotels, car rental companies, restaurants, florists and more. For example, more than 1,500 area residents are employed in the Ada County hotel business alone, representing a payroll of more than $26 million, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.
A lot of the businesses that benefit from tourism dont think of themselves as being in the travel business. But the truth is, tourism is an incredible economic engine for Boise, yet it doesnt happen without a lot of hard work by many people in the community.
BCVBs budget is much smaller than competing cities. However, our early successes three decades ago helped us realize that our largest limitations are more in our head than in our pocketbook. Knowing that has inspired BCVBs internal motto: If you believe you can bring an event to Boise, you can!
The bureau takes pride in its long list of success, including creating the plan of the original River Festival, huge RV rallies, and countless corporate meetings and industry conventions. Recent bookings include the Society of American Travel Writers, Special Olympics World Winter Games, and the Iron Man 70.3 triathlon. Taken together, these events have generated well in excess of $100 million in the local economy.
Our job is to see Boise as a product. We promise great experiences and are dependent on everyone else in the community, from TSA agents to hotel clerks, to deliver. Weve never been disappointed.
Follow-up surveys sent to groups who have met in Boise indicate that more than 80 percent say that they could live here, a sign their experience was positive on a very personal level. A large part of this feeling comes from the friendly nature of Boise residents, of course.
But many of the larger (and more profitable groups) say it is the services the bureau provides that make them feel important and excited to come back.
As rewarding as this work is, both personally for the bureau staff and financially for the city, most of it is done quietly thanks to the consistent support of grants from the Idaho Travel Council and annual funding support from the Greater Boise Auditorium District.
The lesson in all of this? The tourism industry is alive and well in Boise. And the millions of dollars it generates is no accident. It comes from many people working hard behind the scenes to make Boise an even more vibrant city.
TERRY KOPP Director of sales for the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau