Many have questioned the feasibility of the Connecticut Convention Center, even changing that it will become a “white elephant on the river.” One wishes that those observers could have attended the Connecticut Restaurant and lodging show on Monday, October 23rd or Tuesday, October 24th. Maybe the naysayers wouldn’t be so grouchy.
Thousands of industry employees, restaurant owners, hospitality students and a sprinkling of public officials (Governor Rell attended, Senator Lieberman spoke) spent hours sampling, learning about and buying products from the vast array of vendors. Upon investigation, it turned out that all the hotel and motel rooms withing 50 miles were filled with exhibitors and staff, attendees and suppliers. Exactly why cities build conventions centers. Other area business also benefitted - just ask the Arch Street Tavern.
Monday evening, in the Marriott Hotel downtown, over 400 hoteliers attended the annual meeting and dinner of the Connecticut lodging association. With speeches and videos, the progress made in the hospitality industry was lauded - taxes paid and jobs created - and, of course, pitched for more public money for promotion.
Len Wolman, given the hotelier of the year award and the Connecticut Innkeeper Friendship award helped form the new public/private Connecticut Tourism Industry Award helped form the new public/private Connecticut Tourism Industry Alliance. He urged all of the attendees to become publicly active in supporting additional state activity in the tourism marketplace.
If the enthusiasm of those attending the restaurant and lodging show, or the dinner, was any measure, we may be entering a new phase in the effort to bring awareness of the benefits of the hospitality industry.