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Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Barry E. White speaks during the Chattanooga Tourism Summit at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Visitors to Hamilton County pump more than $1.1 billion a year into the Chattanooga area economy, much of it from conventions, meetings and sporting events recruited to the Scenic City by the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

To help Chattanooga's tourism bureau more accurately count and better allocate the resources it spends each year to recruit and serve major events, the agency has begun using an internationally recognized consulting firm to measure the economic impact of different events.

Destinations International has developed an Event Impact Calculator (EIC) platform through Tourism Economics to measure the economic benefit of local conventions and meetings. Chattanooga is one of more than 200 cities and convention and visitors bureaus using the tool to quantify the economic value of conventions, trade shows, sports events, and festivals.

"The EIC is the industry standard for measuring how events impact a destination," said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. "The EIC empowers destination organizations to quantify the value events bring to their communities and the Chattanooga CVB is now better prepared to make the case for the importance meetings and events have on their destination."

Barry White, the president of the Chattanooga Area Convention Bureau for the past two years, used the Events Impact Calculator when he headed the tourism bureau in Augusta, Georgia and began using the tool this summer in Chattanooga.

"A regional sporting event with 14- or 15-year-old girl tennis players is very different in its impact than a corporate meeting or an international trade show," White said.

In assessing the economic impact of events in the past, the Convention and Visitors Bureau tended to use similar multipliers for all events and wasn't as precise in measuring the actual spending and economic impact as what the EIS now offers.

"With this standardized formula when we are going after events that were hosted in other cities last year, we can call up that city and with this standardized tool get a much more accurate measurement of the true economic value of each event for us, especially since the data is very localized based upon our local tax rates, costs and spending patterns," White said. "This will make sure we are getting the most return on our investments."

The tourism bureau works each year to recruit nearly 400 events, meetings and festivals from among several thousand events it considers or makes offers for each year.

"We're not afraid to put our boxing gloves and compete against bigger cities for events, but we want to make sure we are doing so with the best information, which this tool helps provide us," said Brian Murphy, vice president of sales for the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau,

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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