LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Conventions are big business in Las Vegas, and the clock’s ticking for a convention comeback.
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, in 2018 the convention industry directly created an economic output of $6.6 billion and supported nearly 45,000 jobs in Las Vegas.
Conventions can start planning their return in less than two weeks. Some big events are eager to get going, but they have to get approved first.
Starting on March 15, organizers can submit safety plans to host up to 1,000 guests at a convention in Nevada.
Those plans are then reviewed and approved by Nevada's Division of Industrial Relations or the Gaming Control Board, depending on whether they're planning to be held at a gaming property.
So far, state officials tell 13 Action News they haven't received any applications for conventions in March or April.
Here's where it gets interesting.
Starting on May 1, the approval process for conventions gets turned over to local/county officials. At that point, the capacity limit could be lifted to more than 1,000 guests, it could stay the same or tighter restrictions could be put in place to limit gatherings again.
13 Action News spoke with Ben Stimpson, one of the organizers for the Tobacco Plus Expo, which is scheduled to be one of the first in-person conventions held in Las Vegas since the start of the pandemic from May 12-14.
Stimpson says it's frustrating not knowing if he'll be able to host his convention until less than two weeks before it takes place.
"Every day that we have to wait is frustrating," said Stimpson.
"If there’s any way we could work with the local municipality, the county commissioners," she said, "any way we can work with anybody within the state to push this forward, we can show everyone that we can help bring the businesses back."
"Anything we can do to help push that through to get an earlier date would be most helpful for us, and I think, everybody else in the industry,"
Stimpson says they're hoping to have at least 3,000 guests attend that event in-person at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The World of Concrete convention is scheduled to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center too, about a month later from June 8-10.
In a non-pandemic year, it attracts about 60,000 guests.
A spokesperson for Nevada's Department of Business and Industry released a statement to 13 Action News that reads in part:
"DIR is working closely with the city and county to establish a process to address the May 1 transition for event organizers that need approval as far in advance as possible. Some of those meetings are taking place this week. Division leadership has already committed to the local/county officials their availability and support for plan consultation after the transition takes place."