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Convention of international CEOs lands in Las Vegas for 1st time

More than 500 corporate executives from around the world are convening in Las Vegas this week and tourism leaders hope the gathering will spur future meetings of multinational corporations here in the future.

The UFI Global Congress is meeting in the United States for the first time in history and in North America for the first time in more than 50 years.

More than 50 speakers from more than 50 countries will address strategic issues facing the global exhibition industry.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has been cultivating the relationship with UFI for years and sweetened the deal in June 2022 by agreeing to spend $760,000 to sponsor the four-day gathering at Aria.

“I don’t think it’s hard for Las Vegas to make the case that in this industry, when you come (to the United States) you should come here,” LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said in a Tuesday interview. “We are really the destination in the United States that’s involved with the industry. It’s almost exclusive.”

UFI chose MGM because of its international profile with resorts in Macao, the United Arab Emirates and, soon, Japan.

Kai Hattendorf, managing director and CEO of UFI The Global Association of Exhibition Industry, said there isn’t anything specific in Las Vegas that led to his board to decide to meet in Southern Nevada. His group has adopted the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign as its meeting symbol. He said it was coincidental that another high-profile international event — the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix — is occurring in the same month as the UFI Global Congress.

Hill said he’s hopeful that when the C-suite level executives see what Las Vegas has to offer and some of the area attractions that they’ll not only consider bringing their corporate meetings here but visit with their families as leisure tourists.

The LVCVA has worked to increase international tourism as well as business travel after statistics showed a dramatic decrease in both following the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first nine months of 2023, international arrivals at Harry Reid International Airport are up 32.9 percent to 2.4 million passengers while convention attendance is up 27.8 percent to 4.6 million conventioneers.

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

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