A convention and visitor bureau is a not-for-profit organization supported by transient room tax, government budget allocations, private membership or a combination of any or all three. Some destinations have additional sources of revenue from meals tax, transportation or attraction taxes.
The bureau in each city, county or region has three prime responsibilities:
- To encourage groups to hold meetings, conventions and tradeshows in the city or area it represents;
- To assist those groups with meeting preparations and while their meeting is in progress; and
- To encourage tourists to visit and enjoy the historic, cultural and recreational opportunities the destination offers.
A CVB does not actually organize meetings and conventions. It does, however, help meeting planners and visitors learn about the destination and area attractions and make the best possible use of all the services and facilities the destination has to offer.
The roots of present-day CVBs stretch back to 1895 when a group of businessmen in Detroit put a full-time salesman on the road to invite conventions to their city. Today, CVBs operate throughout the world.
At first, convention bureaus existed primarily to sell and service conventions. As the years passed, more and more bureaus became involved in the promotion of tourism. Many added the words "and visitor" to their names to reflect this expanded role.
Definition source: Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI)