Nearly 25,000 amateur radio operators from around the globe will visit Dayton this weekend for the 62nd annual Hamvention, the world’s largest convention devoted to the technology, officials said.
The event, held Friday through Sunday at the Hara Complex in Trotwood, has an annual economic impact of $6.5 million, said Jacquelyn Y. Powell, president and chief executive of the Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
About 800 of this year’s visitors will be from outside the U.S., reflecting amateur radio’s growing popularity in countries such as Qatar, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, China, Brazil and India, said Michael Kalter, a Hamvention spokesman.
Kalter, a management consultant and past chair of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association, was the keynote speaker last year at a science and technology conference in Doha, Qatar. “They see amateur radio as a link for their youth and their population to be more involved in technology,” he said.
India also is working to get more licensed amateur radio operators to help provide that country with emergency communications during severe weather outbreaks, such as monsoons, Kalter said.
“Big storms come through and sometimes their communications can be out for a long time, because that area of the world is pretty much all dependent on cell phones,” which can become overloaded or get knocked out during calamities, he said.
Amateur radio also remains a popular hobby in the U.S., despite the rise of social media and other online communications. There are nearly 713,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the U.S., including more than 28,500 in Ohio, according to the American Radio Relay League.
Hamvention officials will host a number of international representatives tonight at an invitation-only welcome dinner at the Dayton Racquet Club.
“Amateur radio operators readily understand other cultures, generally speaking, because we are talking to people all over the world in different forms of communication,” Kalter said. “It gives us an opportunity to understand each other’s culture and know each other just for people, not for a particular religious or political group,” he said.