Convention industry shares struggles after latest event cancellation

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As convention cancellations continue in Las Vegas over COVID-19 concerns, the economic impact spans across multiple industries, affecting businesses many wouldn’t imagine. 

“I shoot 350 events a year,” Convention and event photographer Tonya Harvey told 8 News Now of her normal workload before the pandemic. “And I have photographed 9 events in 5 months.”

Last week, The Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA, announced the cancellation of its November 2020 event, which is the latest in a long list of recent changes. 

“I don’t think people really realize the trickle down effect of an event like SEMA being cancelled,” Michele Rothstein, CEO of decorating company Balloons with a Twist said.

This hasn’t only been a loss for hotels and restaurants, it has devastated photographers and decorators like Rothstein. 

“We have a little bit of work,” Rothstein said of her current situation. “Certainly not what we would normally have at this time of year.”

Conventions brought over 6.6 million visitors to our city just last year, and the elimination of SEMA alone will be a huge hit in 2020. 

“You have a direct effect, you have an indirect effect, you have an induced effect,” UNLV Director of Center for Business and Economic Research Stephen Miller told 8 News Now of the impact. “So a conservative estimate, you might have a 250 million dollar hit on the economy.”

Therefore, those in the industry are getting creative until they can once again trust the currency of their chosen craft. 

“We’ve just kind of had to pivot as we go along,” Rothstein explained. 

“As soon as it comes back,” Hardy concluded of the local economy. “I know we will all be thriving.”

While conventions are integral to the Las Vegas economy, Miller added that they only bring in about one in seven of our yearly visitors. 

The rest of our numbers come from general tourists who come to vacation and gamble. 

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