IMEX America kicked off at the Venetian with a bit of a somber tone on Tuesday.  It’s the first major conference being held on the Strip in the wake of the 1 October mass shooting outside Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

The IMEX America convention draws other convention and tourism experts, so leaders of some of the biggest businesses on the Strip made it a point Tuesday to remind the world that “we are Vegas Strong.” 

Southern Nevada’s resort community has rallied behind the “Vegas Strong” brand as a sign of solidarity in the face of one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter told a theater full of fellow convention experts that their offices have been inundated with support.

“We have 43 million friends who come here every year, and they love our town, and they’re mourning with us,” said Ralenkotter.  “They have empathy for those who were impacted, but we’re going to come back stronger than ever.”  

Last year Las Vegas hosted some 22,000 meetings and saw more than 6 million business travelers, which set a record.  It’s a nearly $12.5 billion industry when you look at its economic impact.

The LVCVA says so far, none of the conventions have pulled out of Las Vegas in the wake of the shooting.  In fact, the LVCVA says it’s received an outpouring of support businesses across the world over the past week and a half.