Detroit tourism seeks rebound after year lost to pandemic

Saturday, May 15, 2021 | Corey Williams, Associated Press

Timothy Tharp
In a photo from May 6, 2021, Timothy Tharp with patrons Cecelia Shelley, center, and Amber Nolan, at his Checker Bar in downtown Detroit. Tharp also owns Grand Trunk Pub and the Whisky Parlor. He estimates that his businesses have lost about $1 million after closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But now as vaccinations increase and government-ordered lockdowns and restrictions to protect the public are being lifted, Tharpe believes the coronavirus pandemic could be remembered as just another hurdle the Motor City has had to leap. (AP Photo/Corey Williams)

DETROIT (AP) — Timothy Tharp has owned businesses in Detroit long enough to remember when parts of downtown resembled a ghost town. He’s also seen its resurgence with new restaurants, hotels and throngs of people since the city's emergence from bankruptcy.

Then came COVID-19 and people stopped coming. Tharp estimates his three restaurants and bars have lost a combined $1 million since March 2020.

But now as vaccinations increase and government-ordered lockdowns and restrictions are lifted, Tharp believes the coronavirus pandemic could be remembered as just another hurdle the Motor City has overcome.

“We’ve gotten used to the apocalypse over and over and over again,” said Tharp who owns Grand Trunk Pub, the Whisky Parlor and the Checker Bar in and around downtown. “We crawl out of the ashes and rise again every 10 years. That’s what we do.”

Groups and companies already are booking dates in Detroit for this year and next. Businesses also are putting together Detroit-specific packages featuring high-end hotels and swanky restaurants, an effort to attract short-stay visitors who can drive in from nearby states.

Detroit is not alone. Convention and tourism leaders across the U.S. are banking on a comeback from the virus, which forced most Americans to stay close to home for months last year.

The costs of COVID to the convention and business meeting industry is “not even believable,” said Sherrif Karamat, president and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Professional Convention Management Association and the PCMA Foundation.

In the U.S., losses are estimated at $300 billion. The year before the pandemic, conventions generated more than $1 trillion globally, Karamat said.

“Almost all of that went away,” he said. “It would have been the 15th largest gross domestic product in the world.”

As some businesses found it difficult, if not impossible, to connect and bring people together face-to-face, the global supply side — hotels, convention centers, restaurants — suffered.

Lessons learned over the past year will help the industry adjust to restrictions and the need to keep people safe, Visit Indy Chief Executive Leonard Hoops said.

Since July 1, 2020, Indianapolis has hosted 32 groups inside the Indiana Convention Center and more than 239,000 people attending their events.

The Indianapolis metropolitan area hosted this year’s men’s NCAA basketball tournament, which saw games played at multiple venues. The number of fans attending any one game was limited to 250. Mask-wearing was required, although that rule was not always adhered to by fans.

About $620 million was spent in the region during the tournament.

“You had to be masked, have temperature checks and health screenings,” Hoops said. “If it’s safe to go to Target with a mask on and safe to go to Kroger with a mask on, why isn’t it safe to go to an event with a mask on?”

Meanwhile in Detroit, the pandemic came at a pivotal time.

The city’s population has shrunk by more than 1 million people since the 1950s. That, along with downsizing in the auto industry and other manufacturing, all but decimated Detroit’s tax base, leaving the city broke. A state-appointed emergency manager took over in 2013 and herded the city through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. In December 2014, Detroit exited bankruptcy financially leaner and nearly debt-free.

Its downtown convention center in 2013 hosted only seven groups, which brought about $47 million in direct spending to the area’s economy. In 2019, 29 groups had booked events through the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, bringing in $148 million in direct spending.

As confidence and reinvestment returned, it became easier to market Detroit as a destination. Big events pumped millions of dollars into the Detroit area’s economy.

In 2019, the annual North American International Auto Show brought in an estimated $430 million. That public event is not booked through the convention and visitors bureau. The auto show was canceled last year and won’t happen this year. It will be replaced by an outdoor event called Motor Bella in September at a racetrack called the M1 Concourse north of the city. Organizers hope to return to the downtown TCF Center convention hall in 2022.

About $40 million came with the 2009 NCAA men's basketball Final Four, which was held at Ford Field, while the 2006 Super Bowl brought in an estimated $274 million.

Not many big conventions are expected this year, but 2022 promises to be a rebound year, said Claude Molinari, president and chief executive of the Detroit convention and visitors’ bureau.

Over the past month, events have been booked that could bring nearly 40,000 visitors and about $41 million to the region. Some that canceled last year, such as FIRST Robotics and the International Women’s Forum, have signaled they will return in the future.

Meanwhile, the Injection Molding and Design Show will debut next March at Detroit’s TCF convention center. It is expected to attract 4,000 people and fill up hotel rooms. Another 5,000 are expected to attend the June 2022 Silicone Expo USA in Detroit.

“I’m really looking at (2020) as a pause and not a shutdown,” Molinari said. “We were ready to take off just before the pandemic and we are ready right now coming out of it.”

Featured Article: Why are percentage gainers important?


7 Stocks to Support Your New Year’s Resolutions

After a year like 2020, many Americans figure that just getting to 2021 was enough. But for many people, the start of a new year still means making resolutions. And while many Americans are still waking up to Groundhog’s Day, there is hope that things will look dramatically different in September than they do right now.

Some of the most popular resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, or taking steps to get our life and/or business more organized. And many pure-play companies lean into these trends and are doing well.

As an alternative to this, you can also invest in companies that are not pure plays but can still benefit from consumers looking to start fresh. Owning these stocks helps you manage your risk. If the trend holds, you can ride the wave. On the other hand, if the wave turns into a ripple, the stocks have other catalysts to get them through.

In this special presentation, we’ll take a look at both of these categories. We’ve got several pure-play companies that let investors buy stocks in companies benefiting from these trends. We’ll also give you a few stocks that fall in the latter category.

These are stocks that you might buy at any time and for many reasons. However, they present excellent buys as the new year begins.

View the "7 Stocks to Support Your New Year’s Resolutions".


MarketBeat - Stock Market News and Research Tools logo

MarketBeat empowers individual investors to make better trading decisions by providing real-time financial data and objective market analysis. Whether you’re looking for analyst ratings, corporate buybacks, dividends, earnings, economic reports, financials, insider trades, IPOs, SEC filings or stock splits, MarketBeat has the objective information you need to analyze any stock. Learn more about MarketBeat.

MarketBeat is accredited by the Better Business Bureau

© American Consumer News, LLC dba MarketBeat® 2010-2021. All rights reserved.
326 E 8th St #105, Sioux Falls, SD 57103 | U.S. Based Support Team at [email protected] | (844) 978-6257
MarketBeat does not provide personalized financial advice and does not issue recommendations or offers to buy stock or sell any security.

Our Accessibility Statement | Terms of Service | Do Not Sell My Information

© 2021 Market data provided is at least 10-minutes delayed and hosted by Barchart Solutions. Information is provided 'as-is' and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice, and is delayed. To see all exchange delays and terms of use please see disclaimer. Fundamental company data provided by Zacks Investment Research.