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by Sarah J.F. Braley and Loren G. Edelstein | February 18, 2011

According to "The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Econo­my," a quantitative analysis of face-to-face meetings that was released yesterday, the U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, represents $263 billion in spending and contributes $106 billion to the GDP annually. The research was conducted by PwC US and spearheaded by an alliance of 14 meetings industry associations under the umbrella of the Convention Industry Council, including the Meeting Professionals International Foundation, the Professional Convention Man­agement Association/Education Foundation, the Association of Destination Management Executives and the U.S. Travel Association. The findings were based on 3,510 surveys, with questions based on 2009 figures. Of respondents, 2,700 were meeting organizers; venue managers, exhibitors and destination marketing representatives make up the rest of the sample. Other findings: Of the $263 billion in overall spending, $151 billion was related to the cost of planning and producing meetings, while another $113 billion was spent in related travel and tourism. The meetings industry's direct contributions to the U.S. GDP in 2009 was $106 billion, more than that of auto manufacturing ($78 billion). For a report summary, go to here. To purchase the full report for $495, go to meetingsmeanbusiness.com.