Religious convention expected to have economic impact in the ‘millions’

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MEDICINE HAT, AB – Three years ago the City of Medicine Hat had plans to host the Annual Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Health restrictions from the pandemic put that on hold until now.

This summer, Medicine Hat will welcome thousands of visitors as it gears up to host its largest convention ever.

Between 8,500 and 9,000 participants from across southern Alberta, southern B.C. and southern Saskatchewan are expected to attend the Jehovah’s Witness convention at Co-op Place.

The convention will run over two weekends this June and is expected to have a significant economic boost to local businesses, hotels and restaurants.

Jace Anderson with Tourism Medicine Hat says the influx of visitors will have a significant impact on the local economy.

“From an economic impact perspective, it’s in the millions. It’s in the millions and so for Medicine Hat to have the opportunity to not only host this but to showcase itself for potential meetings and conventions in the future we are very pleased this is coming together,” says Anderson.

The city expects the two weekends to bring in around $4 million in economic activity.

“The economic impact from an accommodation stay is going to be significant and then you add on the very next layer which is going to be food and beverage as was said earlier these sessions will end at 5 p.m. and they will be looking for social time within their community but in our community,” says Anderson.

The conventions will run from June 16-18 and June 23-25.

Hotel rooms and campground space in Medicine Hat and surrounding communities are already being booked solid.

Elisha Ammann with Medicine Hat Accommodation Association says some hotels in the city were fully booked minutes after the convention was announced.

“Hearing that the conference was coming back has been amazing. And of course, it’s going to benefit our hotels but it is going to benefit this whole area you know with restaurants and the local businesses as far as Brooks. I mean the economic benefits of a conference this size is amazing,” says Ammann.

Brad Pramberg, a spokesperson with Jehovah’s Witnesses Canada, says they chose Medicine Hat as their host city because of the central driving distance for most visitors and the large meeting space offered by Co-op Place.

“So it’s going to be nice to come to Medicine Hat and see some people perhaps we haven’t seen in three, four years. Some family is going to be coming in, they will be reuniting and to have it here in this nice setting, it’s a real privilege,” says Pramberg.

The theme of this year’s convention is “Exercise Patience.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses Canada is planning to host 49 conventions across 23 different locations this summer and the public is welcome to attend.

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