PHOENIX - When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, Downtown Phoenix was empty, and the Phoenix Convention Center closed.
The center's closure due to the pandemic meant that the hundreds of thousands of travellers it usually attracts did not come to Arizona. However, as the state continues to reopen following the depths of the pandemic, events are making a return to the center.
"I’m really enjoying the weather and everyone’s really nice, and I’m surprised everything’s open, so that’s a good thing," said Susie Kim, a Californian who is in Phoenix for a volleyball tournament expected to be attended by 5,000 people.
"It’s really cool. It's starting to feel back to normal. It's really fun," said Deanna Kim.
"Most importantly, we're back doing what we love to do here at the Convention Center, which is welcome people, especially those coming out of state, and enhance the experience they have when they visit Downtown," said Jerry Harper with the Phoenix Convention Center. "e really like to think of ourselves as one of the gateways to what Phoenix and Arizona has to offer."
Businesses benefiting from return of events
With events returning to the Phoenix Convention Center, at least some of those event attendees need places to stay. With that in mind, hotels in the area stand to reap at least some benefits.
"We're so excited to finally see this business come back, because it really is the life blood of the city," said Melissa Balthazor with AC Hotel.
The AC Hotel opened earlier in 2021, and has been waiting for the Convention Center to get back to normal. For the first time, they have sold all of their rooms for the next week.
"It feels really good to finally feel like we’re turning the leaf of the pandemic tray," said Balthazor. "Just nice to see people coming back and enjoy travel again."
During the pandemic, the sales team at the Phoenix Convention Cemter remained busy, having booked 75 future conventions, equaling 300,000 future visitors.
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