Tourism leaders work to expand Palm Beach County Convention Center

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In the hub of downtown sits the Palm Beach County Convention Center. A 365,000 square foot building county leaders are hoping to expand.

"It's very important for the future of Palm Beach County tourism," Jorge Pesquera,  the president of Discover the Palm Beaches said.

Pesquera says since the Hilton Hotel opened up next to the convention center they've seen a 350 percent increase in hotel room sales related to the convention center.

"Conventions in meetings are an insurance policy for the future of tourism in the county," he said. 

Dave Anderson the general manager at the convention center says more hotel rooms and a bigger convention center can bring in larger events.

"The 400 rooms that we added on has been fantastic but there's another level of event that we are missing because they're looking to have as many of their conventioneers to be as close to the convention center as possible," Anderson said. 

The county collects about $50 million a year in tourism taxes from hotels and vacation rentals. Pesquera estimates over the next few years the county will lose out on 350,000 hotel room night bookings if the convention center is not expanded.

"If we build additional room inventory connected to the convention center and we expand the convention center we will see an exponential boom in conventions and meetings in Palm Beach County," Pesquera said. 

This month the county voted to spend $50,000 on a study to look into expanding the convention center. The study will determine if more hotel rooms would be needed to support a larger center.

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