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Hundreds attend Palm Beach County tourism event

Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 01, 2016

Nearly 400 people gathered at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Tuesday to watch a presentation about the state of tourism in the county.

So far, the impact of challenges like the Zika virus have been small compared to Miami Dade and Broward counties.

The convention center parking garage coming up is proof that business is booming in the county. And the strategy to keep it that way is to work hard to book groups and meetings far in advance.

That’s the message at the Discover the Palm Beaches Annual Tourism Event:  despite some challenges, the county is on track for a record year of tourism.

RELATED: MORE ZIKA COVERAGE

The county estimates that 6.9 million people visited the county in 2015 supporting more than 60,000 jobs. This year, officials say we’re on pace to top that.

The county says more than 1,000 new hotel rooms were built this year, and another 1,300 will go up in the next two years.

Still, the CEO and President of  Discover the Palm Beaches says his organization is watching Zika closely.

“Zika is certainly a concern and there's been a lot of talk about that and some of our neighboring counties to the south have been impacted more directly,” said Jorge Pesquera.  “It hasn't affected us as much here but certainly something that we're watching and concerned about coming into the future.”

The county tourism bureau says even though Zika is a concern, Hurricane Matthew did more to our tourism industry. It lead to $4 million in lost revenue.

The tourism bureau has also expanded its footprint in in cities like Houston and Minneapolis to draw more visitors to Palm Beach County. 

The Hilton coming up on Okeechobee Blvd is the only one of its kind attached to a convention center in South Florida.