SAN DIEGO-The county’s hospitality industry will buck a nationwide trend of declining growth, remaining strong in 2001, according to forecasts by tourism, convention and industry groups.

San Diego’s potent mix of good year-round climate, a strong convention market and abundance of recreation again places it among the nation’s top three destinations, according to InterBank Brener Hospitality. Only New York and San Francisco rank higher.

However, rising energy and labor costs could hurt the bottom line of area hotels and resorts, according to Robert Rauch, managing director of InterBank Brener.

The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau expects a healthy 2001, especially with the expanded convention center’s completion expected by the end of the summer. The size of the center’s exhibition hall has been doubled, to 500,000 sf, and another 100,000 sf is being added upstairs. According to Carol Wallace, president and CEO of the Convention Center Corp., the financial impact from all the planned conventions is estimated at $504 million.

The local tourism industry is expected to remain vibrant despite competition from Disney’s California Adventure, which is expected to hurt attendance at virtually all other Southern California tourist attractions next year.

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