The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (DBA Explore St. Louis) is the official destination marketing organization responsible for selling St. Louis City and St. Louis County as a convention and meeting site and as a leisure travel destination. Explore St. Louis works to attract citywide conventions, one-hotel meetings, sporting events, group tours and individual leisure travelers to St. Louis. More than 700 local and regional businesses are partners with Explore St. Louis.
The St. Louis Tourism Bureau was founded in 1909 by a group of local business leaders, after seeing the success of the 1904 World’s Fair. In 1984, the Bureau was restructured and combined with the St. Louis County Office of Tourism to form the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (SLCVC), a regional commission of the State of Missouri. Dedicated funding for the SLCVC and the Regional Arts Commission through a new tax on hotel rooms was implemented. The SLCVC’s board was reorganized in 1991 to reflect the organization’s new role in managing the expanded America’s Center Convention Complex including the 67,000-seat Dome at America’s Center, 1,400- seat Ferrara Theatre, a 28,000 square-foot ballroom and the St. Louis Executive Conference Center. (Prior to the expansion, the convention center had been operated by the City of St. Louis.)
The SLCVC’s 11-member Board of Commissioners is headed by a chairman appointed by the Governor of Missouri. Five Board members are appointed by the Mayor of the City of St. Louis and five are appointed by the St. Louis County Executive. According to the organization’s enabling legislation, three of each official’s appointees must be actively engaged in the St. Louis hotel industry.
Explore St. Louis at a Glance
- A 3.75 percent tax paid by visitors on transient lodging in St. Louis City and County provides the funding for the Explore St. Louis, 11/15 of which is used by Explore St. Louis for its sales and marketing programs and operations. The remaining 4/15 of the tax supports the programs of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission.
- According to a study conducted by the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the activities of Explore St. Louis directly contribute more than $5 billion to the local economy on an annual basis.
- St. Louis welcomes 25.9 million annual visitors for leisure, conventions, meetings and business travel
- Visitors spend $5.38 billion in St. Louis and tourism provides jobs for more than 85,000 area residents
- St. Louis area tourism workers earn $3.17 billion in wages yearly and the industry generates $925 million in local, state and federal taxes each year
- Travel and tourism ranks among the top 6 industries in St. Louis City and County
- Each household in St. Louis City and County receives $1,121 a year in tax savings as a result of travel and tourism