Brett Blume

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  Hoping to get past the loss of a major government gathering, the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is getting ready to welcome the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Congress this weekend (July 28-31).

St. Louis beat out a number of larger cities for the chance to host the conference, expected to see a direct spending economic impact of nearly $6.5 million.

Even more important, says CVC president Kitty Ratcliffe, is that these are the people responsible for planning major meetings and conventions around the world.

“The opportunity for us is that we have a chance to showcase St. Louis to them in a way that perhaps they’ve never seen St. Louis before,” Ratcliffe explains.

To welcome more than 2,000 attendees to the city, the CVC will host an opening reception at Busch Stadium on Saturday and a closing reception on Tuesday, July 31st, at the Missouri Botanical Gardens for the Chinese Lantern Festical.

Conference highlights will include an opening general session on Sunday with welcoming remarks from Mayor Francis Slay, an industry awards luncheon, and a fundraiser for the MPI foundation at City Museum.

Ratcliffe says it’s time to move on from the disappointment of last week’s announcement that the massive GovEnergy convention that was to be held at America’s Center in August had been cancelled in the wake of the scandal that engulfed GSA for staging a lavish $800,000 conference in Las Vegas two years ago.

“2012 is actually the best year we’ve had in probably a decade for meetings and conventions,” Ratcliffe insists. “We have a very solid city-wide convention calendar, and because of the recent growth in the economy we’ve been able to layer in some short-term bookings on top of that, and leisure travel’s going strong.”

Collectively, MPI’s meeting planners account for nearly 700,000 meetings per year with the buying power of the planner attendees themselves coming to more than $1.7 billion.


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