Las Vegas Tourism hopes for MICE industry bounce back this year

Published on : Monday, January 11, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic brought Las Vegas conventions to a jarring stop last year, but tourism officials hope trade shows gradually return in 2021. The World of Concrete gathering in June will likely be a good measuring stick for a comeback, said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

It is also the first large-scale trade show planned for the Las Vegas Convention Center’s new West Hall, a $980 million expansion project.

The show was originally scheduled for this month, but was pushed back to June because of the pandemic. A more condensed virtual version will also happen in February.

More than 50,000 people attended the show in February. Organizers are expecting close the same turnout this year, show spokesman Steve Pomerantz said.

Pomerantz didn’t offer specifics about how World of Concrete plans to get around state-mandated attendance caps if coronavirus restrictions aren’t relaxed.

Gov. Steve Sisolak in September raised the attendance cap for conventions to 1,000 people spread out in groups of no more than 250. The public gatherings had previously been limited to just 50 people to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Pomerantz said World of Concrete organizers would continue to monitor the public health situation in Las Vegas.

Assuming the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines goes as planned, Hill said, he’s confident the trade show industry will pick up steam during the second half of 2021.

Las Vegas has missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact from conventions during the pandemic. World of Concrete alone has an economic impact of about $93 million.

The Las Vegas Strip was shut down for more than two months starting in mid-March, after Sisolak ordered the statewide closure of casinos and other nonessential businesses to help control the virus.

From April through September, the LVCVA reported no conventions in Las Vegas. Beginning in October, it stopped reporting monthly convention visitation numbers because there was virtually nothing to report.

In 2019, more than 6.6 million conventioneers visited Las Vegas, according to the LVCVA. That number dropped to about 1.7 million in 2020.

A few weeks after the casino shutdown, officials with the CES electronic gadget show began to realize their January 2021 event likely would not be able to go ahead as planned.

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