May 12, 2004

The $32 million Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis Resort opened last week. Built beachside on Seawall Boulevard, the facility offers 43,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 15,000-square-foot ballroom and 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort has 346 guest rooms.

Manny Cortez, president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority since 1991, will retire July 2. His successor will be selected by the LVCVA board of directors; no timetable has been set for their decision.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle last Thursday vetoed a bill aimed at keeping secret the identities of groups booking the Hawaii Convention Center. The bill -- which would have prevented the public from accessing an event's information until 10 days after its completion -- was criticized for hindering the public's right to scrutinize operations at the facility. Describing her opposition to the measure, Lingle said, "Controversial organizations might schedule conventions at the Hawaii Convention Center without the public being aware of the fact and having an opportunity to object." Supporters of the bill argued that changing the state's information disclosure laws would improve convention bookings, particularly among corporate groups with privacy concerns.

The San Diego Convention Center Corp. in July is expected to take over sole responsibility for marketing and selling the city's convention center, a task the corporation currently shares with the city's convention and visitors bureau. According to a proposal by San Diego's city manager, the San Diego CVB will focus completely on single-property group events and leisure sales, while its 10-member convention sales staff will be asked to become SDCCC employees. The consolidation, estimated to save the city approximately $1 million annually, is expected to improve service to meeting planners by providing them with a single point of contact.

On Monday, Southwest Airlines began its highly anticipated service out of Philadelphia International Airport, with 14 daily nonstop flights to Chicago; Las Vegas; Orlando; Phoenix; Providence, R.I.; and Tampa Bay, Fla. Beginning July 6, the airline plans to add flights from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Houston; Los Angeles; Manchester, N.H.; New Orleans; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and West Palm Beach, Fla.