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Jekyll center draws increased interest
The new Jekyll Island Convention Center is seeing increasing interest in its facilities, but some meeting planners are still hesitant to book events because of a lack of hotel rooms on the island.

The center will host 63 conventions this year and 69 in 2013, compared to just 22 that were held last year, when conventions were held in a temporary meeting facility in the island's historic district.

"It's been quite a jump," said Eric Garvey, chief communications officers for the Jekyll Island Authority, which operates the state park.

The new facility opened at the end of May.

Conventioneers are providing positive reviews of the space, Garvey said. Those¬ that have used the center have reported higher-than-expected attendance by as much as 15 percent.

"That has been a real boost for tourism this summer," Garvey said. "And the guest comments are all very, very positive with regard to the facility, food and beverage and service."

The Jekyll Island Authority has seen success in booking new events and smaller meetings, like weddings, a Martial arts competition, youth dance competition and an entertainment event called the Motown Experience.

Still, some conventions are holding off until 2014 in anticipation of the construction of the planned Beach Village retail center and three new hotels -- a Hyatt Place, Westin hotel and 39 beach cottages that will be an extension the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

"In the meantime, we are focusing on smaller¬ functions¬ that do not require the new hotels," Garvey said.



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