Once again the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau, the University of Florida, and the Stephen C. O’Connell Center will be hosting two gatherings of the Christian Congregative of Jehovah’s Witnesses this Memorial Day weekend and on the 4th of July. Based on attendance figures from their two gatherings last year, some 7,500 people will attend over the three day period of Memorial Day weekend. The direct dollar impact to the Gainesville/Alachua County area from each of their two conventions was significant with over 1,700 hotel rooms being booked for each of the 3 nights of each convention and in excess of $2.2 million in spending during each convention at grocery stores, gas stations, retail stores and restaurants. Additionally, the citizens of Alachua County enjoyed over $120,000 in sales and gas tax revenue.
Hosting the Jehovah’s Witnesses over the next three years will have a significant economic impact for our community. Patience and understanding from faculty, staff and students, as well as the general public, particularly during the morning rush hour on Friday, May 26, is encouraged while we welcome them back, for the ultimate benefit to all. Their future dates will not conflict with the beginning of fall classes.
The Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau wants to extend a special thank you to the Board of County Commissioners, Alachua County Legal Department and the Tourist Development Council for the development of a county-wide convention grant that assisted us in our negotiations with the O’Connell Center. We also would like to thank the City of Gainesville for their contribution in bringing these prestigious conventions to the university and to our community.
For more information, citizens can contact the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau at (352) 374-5231.