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Convention centre has possibilities - William E. McLeod

I am writing about the proposal to build a new convention facility in Sudbury. On the face of it, this is quite a good idea.  The powers behind the concept seem to understand the need for diversity in our economy.

I am writing about the proposal to build a new convention facility in Sudbury. On the face of it, this is quite a good idea.  The powers behind the concept seem to understand the need for diversity in our economy.

That having been said, there are two real concerns that I hope will be addressed before too much money is committed to the project.

First, the convention market is very lucrative.  But it is also finite. 

There are only so many conventions to go around.  To bring new ones to Sudbury, they will have to be taken away from other centres that already have entrenched and successful convention marketing programs.  The new facility, if and when it comes on stream, will be tricky and costly (but not impossible) to promote.  Skilled and expensive personnel will have to be retained to do the job.  The $100,000 club will undoubtedly expand, this time for good reason.

The second problem that I hope will receive some attention is the determination of the American government to require passports to gain entry and re-entry to the United States.   Only 20 percent of Americans now carry passports.  If the passport requirement becomes law, the whole Canadian convention market could be dealt a body blow. 

It is highly likely that large American organizations that periodically hold their conventions outside the United States will skip the passport hassle and keep their business at home. Even if the decision is made to accept some sort of tamper-proof identity card, there is no assurance that it will be more widely acquired than the traditional passport.

Nevertheless I wish the folks well in this new and exciting venture.

William E. McLeod
Sudbury




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