by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte tourism officials are concerned about a big drop in revenue in 2015 after a record year in 2012.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority met Wednesday to discuss how to avoid the decrease in tourism revenue.
They said 2012 was a banner year, shattering records in tourism dollars coming into Mecklenburg County.
Now, city leaders are trying to secure major events to help combat any drop in revenue.
Cab driver Jalal Ayesh gets most of his business from tourists.
"Our business in center city depends on people coming to the city," Ayesh said.
Emmanual Adeyemo is visiting from Nigeria.
"The city is well laid out," Adeyemo said.
In 2012, Mecklenburg County hit a record $4.4 billion in tourism making it No. 1 in the state and doubling second place holder Wake County. Mecklenburg County accounts for 23 percent of the state's entire tourism income.
Officials expect 2013 to be even higher.
At Wednesday's tourism meeting, leaders discussed concerns about the possible slump in 2015.
They expected to have 140,000 rooms already booked for conventions by now but are at 45 percent of that goal.
One reason is Charlotte will not host the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament after 2014.
CRVA leader Tom Murray said the CIAA will soon request proposals from cities that want to host and have told Charlotte they want to see some changes.
"They want more access to rooms downtown," Murray said. "They want lower rates."
That is a challenge, since Charlotte room rates are also at a record highs.
Hotel operator Vinay Patel said the prices reflect demand which is why he's confident they'll be fine in 2015.
"This industry is on solid ground," Patel said. "We, as a region, created the opportunities for people to want to come here."
Most conventions book two years out which is why Charlotte leaders are concerned the bookings haven't filled yet for 2015. If Charlotte can get the CIAA to extend past 2014, the city will add another 45.000 hotel rooms toward their goal.