LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The American Bus Association (ABA) announced Thursday that it plans to return to Louisville for its 2019 convention.
The ABA will hold the 2019 Annual Meeting and Marketplace, Jan. 26-29, at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Louisville hosted ABA's annual event in this past January.
"We look forward to bringing our ABA Annual Meeting and Marketplace to Louisville in 2019," said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso, CTIS. "Our members were wowed by the hospitality, quality attractions and culinary delights of Louisville when we visited this year and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in 2019."
The Kentucky International Convention Center plans to close in less than a week. It will be shut down for about two years for renovations and an expansion. The $200 million makeover is convincing businesses to choose Louisville as their destination.
Around 3,500 people attended the ABA show this past January, generating more than $4 million for the local economy. The ABA expects 4,000 people will come once the Convention Center gets its big makeover, as they already enjoyed it as-is. "We have not worked with a better convention staff. The food and beverage service here was outstanding," said Pantuso. "From that prospective, you could keep all of that in place and we would be perfectly happy. But to have additional resources and additional space for our resources are really going to help us better able to grow the organization."
American Bus Association leaders say they look for a great tourism spot when choosing a convention location. They received rave reviews about the food, music and people in Louisville. "Whether it's Churchill Downs, the racetracks that are around, the Ali Center, Louisville Slugger, all those things and much much more make for a great tourism destination. We want to make sure that we're in a place that when the bus operators and tour operators come, they're not only here for our convention what else can they do and how can they bring groups here in the future," said Pantuso.
While Louisville's Convention Center is closed the next two years, the ABA will head to Cleveland, then Charlotte.
As the ABA's annual Marketplace is the first motorcoach, travel and tourism show of each year, experts say based on the amount of business written and the number of people attending, it’s the best in the industry and always a ‘must attend’ event. In 2016, Marketplace welcomed more than 3,400 tour operators, suppliers and exhibitors and generated approximately $100 million dollars in booked business at the event or immediately afterward.
The Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville will close August 17 as part of a $207 million, nearly two-year renovation and expansion project. Work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018.
Noting all that Louisville has to offer including the new convention center in 2019, Pantuso said the ABA Board of Directors were unanimous in their vote to bring Marketplace back to Louisville.
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