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Houston Meeting Industry Recovering Quickly from Hurricane Harvey


Photo courtesy of Visit Houston.

While the world watched the devastation and the agony that Hurricane Harvey wrought on Houston last week, the good news this week is that the city is recovering quickly, especially as it relates to the meeting and convention industry, according to Mike Waterman, president of the Greater Houston CVB. 

Waterman says that as of Tuesday (Sept. 5), 97 percent of the hotel stock in the city was functioning normally—only 3 percent was actually damaged by the storm—and none of the major conferences booked for the second half of this month in Houston has canceled. “This hurricane was catastrophic to many parts of the city—as much as 25 percent of the greater Houston-Harris County area was under water during the peak of the flooding. But being the proverbial optimist that I am, I would point out that when 25 percent of the city is negatively impacted during the storm, that means 75 percent was not,” Waterman says.

And the city is recovering fast, he adds. For instance, while the George R. Brown Convention Center, which was used as a shelter for displaced persons, housed 10,300 storm refugees on peak day, it was down to housing 1,500 by Tuesday and is projected to be functioning again as a convention center on or before Sept. 14. Waterman says the Texas Society of Association Executives annual conference, which is coming to town on schedule Sept. 17, will hold a reception there.

He also says there has been a great outpouring of support from the meeting industry across the nation to help Houston. “The meeting industry has been amazing. Almost every one of the major meetings associations and destination marketing organizations in the country has reached out to us and said, ‘What can we do to help?’ And frankly what we tell them is, ‘Bring your business here,’” Waterman says. “At the end of the day, our biggest ask of the meeting community continues to come if you already have a booking or if you don't and you have an opportunity that would fit in the Houston area, please come. As of now, our airports are open—the roadways from the airport to downtown and to the Galleria area are all open and functioning at normal capacity.”

About 90 percent of downtown Houston was not damaged by flooding and is now up and running, he adds. Funds collected through the MPI Houston Area Chapter Disaster Relief Fund will provide assistance to chapter members directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

About the Author

Roland Stiteler
Rowland Stiteler

Rowland Stiteler, a veteran meeting industry journalist, is a writer and editor for The Meeting Professional.