The top of his list is getting the word out about all of Orange County’s attractions that people may not be aware of, he said. International travelers, who make up 10 percent of the visitors to Anaheim and Orange County, are a prime target. Burress is particularly interested in Chinese tourists, who are increasingly traveling to the United States after eased visa restrictions.
“We have a major opportunity to capitalize on that and we want to be a leader,” said Burress, who started wooing Chinese visitors to Texas 15 years ago when he was in sales with the Dallas Visitor & Convention Bureau.
He also wants to build on the work of his Anaheim predecessors. The city just completed the convention center’s Grand Plaza, a 100,000-square-foot outdoor space with a fountain and palm trees that can be used for events, parties and even weddings.
Burress will oversee the convention’s seventh expansion, adding 250,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The additional space will allow the convention center to attract big groups such as cardiologists and the Heart Association, which left years ago because it needed more room for continuing education seminars.
A thriving visitor and convention business of essential to Anaheim’s well-being, a reality that is important to keep in mind as Anaheim deals with the possibility of dividing the city into single-member council fiefdoms and what kind of City Council — and business policies — that will produce. If it works out as the left-wing coalition pushing council districts intends, we will see policies like the “living wage” and gate taxes that will inhibit job growth and economic opportunity.