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SAN ANTONIO-Armed with the biggest marketing budget in its history, the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau will advertise aggressively to combat the impact that the Sept. 11 attacks have had on the city’s No. 2 industry.

The San Antonio City Council has approved a $2-million increase for the convention center marketing budget, bringing the total to $7.6 million for its 2001-2002 fiscal year. Local hotels will kick in another $400,000 in barter and in-kind contributions.

“The bottom line goal of the additional funding is to increase the number of visitors to San Antonio this year and next,” Mayor Ed Garza said in announcing the funding. “This industry employs 79,000 citizens and our objective is to keep them employed.”

The city’s hotels will lose up to $47 million gross revenues through Dec. 31, according to estimates from Trinity University professors quoted by the city’s convention center bureau. The resulting impact could take up to $100 million from the San Antonio economy.

The convention center bureau and Bromley Communications, its ad agency, plan to spend the dollars on newspaper, magazine and radio advertising as well as Internet outreach and public relations and promotional campaigns. The plan is to retain the visitor base and go after new business.

More than eight million people visit San Antonio each year, generating an economic impact of $4 billion. Since Sept. 11, however, tourism has dropped in San Antonio as it has around the country. Citywide hotel rooms nights sold were down 15% in September, compared to September 2000, according to the convention bureau. Occupancy dropped 16.8% and the average daily rate was down 4,4% and hotel revenues were off 20.4%.

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