SAN DIEGO (CNS) - What tourism officials call one of San Diego's best opportunities to sell itself as a destination -- the annual gathering of the Professional Convention Management Association -- begins Sunday.
The event will bring to town about 4,000 participants, who will set up conferences and meetings in future years and decide where they will be held.
To demonstrate its importance San Diego, the Convention Center estimated that the 65 conventions it is set to host in 2012 will result in local spending totaling $654.3 million.
"San Diego is committed to the convention and meetings industry, and our local tourism community is looking forward to showcasing our world-class destination and its many offerings to PCMA attendees from around the world," said Joe Terzi, president and CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The four-day meeting will take place at the Convention Center and Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Carol Wallace, the president and CEO of the center, said it's a chance to show off the changes to the city since the PCMA was last here in 1996, including two new major hotels, the USS Midway Museum, Petco Park and improvements to the Gaslamp Quarter.
Tourism officials say cities that host the organization feel the economic benefits for years, because attendees later book their own events in those places.
Some of those attending the meeting plan to volunteer at a center for children with autism in Hillcrest, where they will help with painting and landscaping. A reception is scheduled for tonight.
On Monday, Mayor Jerry Sanders is set to declare it "PCMA Day" in San Diego.
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