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CES 2019 to kick off parade of Q1 trade shows, conventions in Las Vegas

For most, the start of the new year is a time for goal-setting and ambitious planning.

For the Las Vegas tourism industry, it’s also the kickoff of one of the busiest times of the year — especially for those who capitalize on the city’s ability to host major trade shows and conventions.

While the eyes of the nation will be on Las Vegas this week for CES — watch for those morning news shows to broadcast from the show — the convention that usually brings more than 170,000 people to town for four days of consumer electronics displays and demonstrations is only the start of a parade of big events.

Right on the heels of CES, which runs Tuesday through Friday, comes Promotional Products International (22,500 people, Jan. 13-17, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center); the International Surface Event, a flooring exhibition (25,000, Jan. 23-25, also at Mandalay Bay); the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, commonly referred to as the SHOT Show (61,000, Jan. 22-25, Sands Expo & Convention Center); and World of Concrete (60,000, Jan. 22-25, Las Vegas Convention Center).

After that, the World Market Center brings 50,000 to downtown Las Vegas for Winter Market 2019, paving the way for the MAGIC Marketplace Spring Show, with 78,000 going to the Convention Center and Mandalay Bay.

The first quarter means big business for Southern Nevada, especially since all those attending conventions and trade shows in our city also spend money on food, lodging and entertainment — not to mention gambling.

Looking at statistics from 2017, the year with the highest Southern Nevada convention visitation in history with 6.65 million, and last year’s numbers (6.3 million over 11 months), visits have been heavily weighted toward January, February and March.

It’s looking more and more like 2018 convention traffic will fall short of 2017’s record. With only December 2018 remaining to be counted, the city is 366,200 people short of 2017’s record. December being the light convention month that it is, with usually under 300,000 coming for shows, look for the 2017 record to stand.

But what a year 2017 was.

In January 2017, Las Vegas welcomed 736,000 people. That was topped only by March’s 757,400. The reason March was so big: ConExpo-Con/Agg, a construction industry trade show that only sets up once every three years.

ConExpo’s next visit to Las Vegas will be in 2020, which is shaping up to be one of the strongest years ever for business tourism.

The year 2020 is also the target for completion of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s new exhibit hall, opening in time for CES 2021. It’s also the year Wynn Las Vegas is expected to open its convention facility being built just east of the resort tower next to its soon-to-be-restored golf course.

And it’s the targeted completion year for Caesars Entertainment’s Caesars Forum meeting center near The Linq Hotel, Harrah’s and the Flamingo.

Resorts World Las Vegas also is targeted for a 2020 completion, and the company has indicated it would have a smallish convention facility — but 3,000 new hotel rooms.

The MSG Sphere at The Venetian also is expected to open in 2020. While its primary purpose will be as a performance venue, its proximity to the Sands Expo & Convention Center will make it a perfect location for convention and trade show business presentations.

Representatives of the Raiders reminded me last week that the 65,000-seat indoor stadium that the team will call home could double as an exhibition hall for big trade shows if the scheduling is right.

MGM Resorts International, meanwhile, keeps rolling along with a promising convention calendar for its multiple show venues. The Park Theater at Park MGM, in fact, will be the site of two keynote addresses for this week’s CES. It seems CES organizers have spread around their high-volume presentations among the MGM, Sands and the Las Vegas Convention Center this year.

January is showing us once again why trade shows and conventions are so vital to Southern Nevada and our tourism economy.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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