The CVC was formed in 1909 when a group of business owners, seeing the success of the 1904 World’s Fair, formed the St. Louis Convention & Publicity Board as a means of further economic development for the city. The name of the organization was later changed to the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater St. Louis.
In 1984, the Bureau was restructured and combined with the St. Louis County Office of Tourism to form the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, a regional commission of the State of Missouri. The CVC’s board was reorganized in 1991 to reflect the organization’s new role in managing the expanded America’s Center convention complex. (Prior to the expansion, the convention center had been operated by the City of St. Louis.) The CVC’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.
The CVC is funded by a 3.75 percent tax on hotel sleeping rooms in St. Louis City and County, 11/15 of which is used by the CVC 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 (RAC). The CVC also receives dues income from approximately 700 member businesses throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. These members work with and support the $4.2 billion St. Louis hospitality industry, taking advantage of business leads generated by the CVC and networking opportunities with other members. Members include hotels, restaurants, attractions, retailers, transportation companies, civic organizations, corporations and providers of goods and services used in the industry.
An economic impact study conducted by University of Missouri-St. Louis professor of economics and public policy Don Phares Ph.D., concluded that the CVC’s sales, marketing and facilities operation efforts generate a $3.9 billion positive annual impact on St. Louis’ economy (based on data collected in 2008), including $2.1 billion in direct spending and $1.8 billion in indirect economic impact.