The report says St. Louis has two good draws for summer tourism — the Arch and the Cardinals — and is firmly entrenched as a second-tier convention city. However, it says, we need more downtown restaurants and attractions to compete with the likes of Atlanta, Denver, Indianapolis and Minneapolis.Very true. And it's important to note that restaurants, shops and other attractions cannot sustain themselves on tourism and convention business alone, both of which are highly cyclical and prone to wide fluctuations based on the state of the overall economy. In order to support the types of ammenities needed to help attract travelers, we need a much stronger business community downtown. That means more companies making a commitment to doing business downtown, filling up vacant office space, fueling the construction of new office space, and providing the critical mass of customers during the day and evening that will help downtown businesses thrive. Downtown's business community and fortunes as a convention city are strongly inter-related.
"When booking meetings and conventions, meeting planners may find the amenities offered in these cities more attractive than those offered in St. Louis," the report states.
The good news is that St. Louis' relative affordability in these difficult economic times is helping the city lure new groups that may not have considered coming here in the past.
At the end of the column, Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the Convention and Visitors Commission, mentions her top priority for downtown St. Louis' redevelopment efforts:
"St. Louis Centre is a tremendous eyesore," she says. "As far as I'm concerned, it is the No. 1 problem, right now."I agree. It's prominent location across from the convention center and just blocks from the Renaissance Hotel make St. Louis Centre one of the first things that visitors to our city see - it needs to be addressed ASAP.