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WHILE THE ICY WINDS of recession chill the meeting and convention industry elsewhere in the nation, Nashville's hospitality professionals for the most part are managing to stay warm. "Last year wasn't as bad as a lot of people thought it would be, and people are looking for a little ray of sunshine this year," says Kenne McWhorter, head of convention sales for the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Most people in the business are feeling a chill, but no one's catching pneumonia, and some people are very warm indeed. In fact, convention and visitors' bureau numbers for the first two months of 1992 show things are, indeed, warming up. During that period convention delegates to the city jumped by 118 percent, to 50,400, and historical attractions enjoyed their best attendance in a decade.
"We had a banner year in '91, the biggest year in the history of the hotel," says Jack Vaughn, general manager of the Opryland Hotel. Although declining to release figures on 1992 advance bookings, he said 1992 looks like a good year as well.
"We've had a surprisingly strong first quarter," reports Annie Ross, marketing and property coordinator for JAH Incorporated, which owns and operates four hotels and a variety of tourist attractions, including the Music Valley Car Museum, the Nashville Palace, and the Ramada Celebrity Theatre.
While some convention professionals say groups are beginning to cut back on convention expenditures, Vaughn says Opryland Hotel is still holding the recession from the door: "nothing is really cut back radically," he reports. Food, beverage, ancillary activities, …