Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau
Thursday, January 21, 2021 | 4:20 pm
Nearly 75% of business travelers said Las Vegas will be ready to safely hold conventions in the latter half of this year, according to polls released Thursday.
The nationwide survey of 500 likely business travelers was conducted earlier this month by Virginia-based research firm Heart + Mind Strategies.
Steve Hill, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, released the results during the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s Virtual Preview Las Vegas event.
Business travel to Las Vegas has been decimated since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in early 2020.
“The mood of travelers over the past 10 months has really followed the health situation,” Hill said in a taped video.
“The health situation will develop positively in about six weeks,” said Hill. “That will brighten the future as we move into the second quarter. There is a lot of catching up to do. “
The survey found that over 90% of respondents – people over 21 who traveled to a convention overnight in the 15 months leading up to March 2020 – “miss the personal interaction of in-person conferences, conventions, and trade shows”.
When asked which US city is best prepared to host conventions in the last six months of this year, 74% of respondents chose Las Vegas.
In 2019, more than 6.6 million congressmen visited Las Vegas. That number fell to around 1.7 million last year, according to LVCVA.
Tourism officials have pointed to the planned World of Concrete show in June as a possible benchmark for the progress of the Las Vegas conventions in the latter half of 2021.
More than 50,000 people attended the group’s last show in February, and organizers are hoping for a similar crowd in June.
To do this, the state restrictions that limit the conventions to 1,000 people would have to be relaxed.
“If we can finish the vaccine in the next three or four months and have some herd immunity built, people will likely be pretty comfortable,” Hill said.
“The restrictions imposed by the emergency declarations made by governors across the country will, in my opinion, go away. I don’t think governors want to be in that position, ”said Hill.
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the slow adoption of the vaccine across the country, despite President Joe Biden’s administration promising to accelerate the pace of adoption.
Biden, who was sworn in on Wednesday, vowed to administer 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office.
Derek Stevens, owner of a downtown Las Vegas casino, said the way Las Vegas is coming back from the coronavirus pandemic is a “leading indicator” for the rest of the country.
“Las Vegas is a city that can help move America forward,” Stevens said in a taped video. “When I speak to customers, I think there is so much to be done in coming to Las Vegas. I think it’s run by the independent traveler, then small groups, then large groups. “
Stevens said he expected Las Vegas to return to “roaring levels” in the second or third quarters of this year.
“In the convention business, there can be some delay due to the time it takes to book things in advance. I don’t envision a long-term problem in Las Vegas, ”said Stevens.