LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The convention comeback starts this week.
Day one of World of Concrete wrapped up on Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where thousands of guests are attending the convention in person.
It's a big day marked by several firsts. It's the first time the brand new, $1 billion West Hall expansion at the Convention Center is open to attendees, the first large-scale trade show in Las Vegas since the start of the pandemic -- and really the first one for the whole country.
"This is not only a great day for our city, it's a great day for the meetings and convention industry across Las Vegas and, really, across the United States," said President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Steve Hill.
After 15 months without any major meetings, all eyes are on World of Concrete to see if these shows can happen safely. LVCVA is hoping it will kick start a complete comeback for the convention industry, but they know it will take time.
"The shows are going to be smaller in attendance for a variety of reasons as we come out of the pandemic. But the bigger commitment is that these shows and associations and show producers are committed to bringing everyone back to business," said Lori Nelson-Kraft, senior VP of communications at the LVCVA.
That's why there's even more pressure to put on a great show post-pandemic, to prove to the rest of the country that Las Vegas can host large, in-person events safely and smoothly.
"We know that this is going to be a great show. It's going to go off seamlessly. It's already started. And it's going to demonstrate how to do a show right and that these shows can happen, just getting back to a normal routine for having these shows in Las Vegas and around the country," said Hill.
In a normal year, the Las Vegas meeting and convention industry has an economic impact of more than $11 billion for the city, but many feel it can bounce back even better than before.
"We should be looking at $14 billion a year in economic impact. That puts over 50,000 people directly to work in this industry in this city every year," said Hill. "That number will continue to grow."
Those numbers are projections and it's going to take time to get business back to normal. Most of the industry experts 13 Action News talked to are targeting the spring of 2022 for the convention industry to return to pre-pandemic levels.