Columbus is poised to roll out the red carpet for an additional 6.5 million visitors in 2016.

Columbus is poised to roll out the red carpet for an additional 6.5 million visitors in 2016.

And Brian Ross is ready to show off the city.

Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus, said much of his excitement stems from the completion of the Port Columbus International Airport modernization project.

The multi-year, $85 million project concludes in March. It will be the first full year of direct flights to Washington, D.C.; Dallas; Boston and the San Francisco Bay area.

During the process the airport has added many local brands, such as Bob Evans, Eddie George's Grille 27 and Donato's.

"You are going to actually know you are in Columbus," Ross said. "It's going to really have a really great feel for Columbus. It also will be much more efficient."

Visitors and residents also will get to enjoy the Scioto Greenways, which will be coming into full bloom for festivals and events in the New Year.

The project included creating 33 additional acres of greenspace accomplished by narrowing the Scioto River. Among the amenities are 900 trees, flowers, paddle board and family-friendly spaces.

"So it's going to be exciting," Ross said. "We have some festivals moving into that area."

Ross said he is extending his hand to Mayor Andy Ginther, who was elected in November to replace Mayor Michael B. Coleman, who chose not to run again after serving four terms.

Ginther has been "very supportive of our industry and will be a voice to help us champion and sell our city when going for major, national events," Ross said.

"He has been a tremendous champion of industry, travel and tourism," Ross said. "He is a very important figure moving forward."

Where would Ohio be if not a major swing state in a presidential year?

Presidential candidates are likely to visit the state numerous times to take to the stump and hold fundraisers, bringing the national media and political pundits with them and tying up traffic along the way.

Ross looks forward to the spotlight it brings on the city.

Columbus was a finalist to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, losing out to Philadelphia in the end.

Cleveland, meanwhile, will host the Republican National Convention from July 18-21 in Quicken Loans Arena.

Ross sees it as a sort of having a trickle-down effect: Columbus will get plenty of related news coverage, both as being a success story and the state capital, where many in the national media will wait for election totals.

"We believe this will give us a great opportunity for us to share the Columbus message and the message of how we're doing," he said.

The upcoming year marks another milestone: Experience Columbus' 75-year anniversary.

"This year we'll celebrate our organization's 75th anniversary, but more importantly, we will look forward to new opportunities and growth of our local economy and quality of life," Ross said.

"We're setting bold goals and aspirations to continue to elevate our city as a premier destination."