The Las Vegas Convention Center’s $980.3 million expansion project isn’t done yet, but it’s already paying dividends to the city’s trade show business.
The National Association of Home Builders on Tuesday announced that its annual International Builders Show will stage 13 consecutive expos in Las Vegas, from 2027 to 2039, bringing an expected $1.26 billion economic impact to Southern Nevada.
“For us, this is a no-brainer,” association CEO Jerry Howard told the board at its monthly meeting. “You have the greatest convention facility in the world, which you’re making it even better in the greatest convention city in the world. Why wouldn’t we want to come here permanently?”
The International Builders Show has been one of the big events that rotates between the East and West coasts. Howard said West Coast builders love to attend shows in Las Vegas, but are reluctant to go to Orlando, Florida, the favored East Coast convention site. Meanwhile, East Coast builders are happy to fly to Las Vegas for the event.
The next Las Vegas show is scheduled Jan. 21-23. It will rotate to Orlando in 2021 and 2022 before returning to Las Vegas in 2023 and 2024.
Drawing an estimated 60,000 attendees each year, the show accounts for more than 143,000 room nights producing an estimated $97 million a year in nongaming economic impact. The show has been in Las Vegas 19 of the past 43 years.
“We look forward to spending a lot of our money here and we look forward to the opportunities this decision will give us to improve the performance of the nation’s home builders,” Howard said.
He said he expects the association’s show to grow as a result of the expansion.
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill told board members that the expansion of the Convention Center is paving the way to attracting more shows to the city.
“It is a major step for this destination,” Hill said. “Having them here every year moves the needle.”
The Convention Center expansion is expected to be completed in January 2021. The four existing exhibition halls will be renovated over the following two years allowing for the center’s capacity to expand by 2023.
While board members basked in the good news of expanded show dates they also heard a representative of the U.S. Travel Association explain how it is working on initiatives to encourage more visitation to the city.
Tori Barnes, the association’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, said the organization is working to expand travel with several national initiatives.
Barnes said the association is working with Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee, D-Nev., and Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., on specific Nevada issues. The delegation will press for infrastructure funding to widen Interstate 15 between the California-Nevada border and Barstow, California, and to complete Interstate 11 in Arizona.
The association has commissioned research showing how highway congestion affects tourism to destinations like Las Vegas. For example, Barnes said a normal trip on I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas takes a little over four hours, but when the highway is congested, it takes 5½ hours and in the summer months, it’s not uncommon for the trip to take 7½ hours, resulting in an economic decline of $30 billion, enough to support 250,000 jobs.
Other initiatives supported by the association:
— Support for the Brand USA program It’s a marketing program to encourage foreign visitors to the United States that is funded by fees charged to international travelers and not by tax dollars.
— The visa waiver program Those programs enable travelers from accepted companies to travel to the United States without being required to secure a government visa. Poland recently became the 39th country to secure a visa waiver program with the U.S., which is expected to result in 97,000 Polish travelers coming to the country and spending an estimated $300 million. The association is working on programs for Brazil and Israel.
— Legislation expanding U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees A Senate version of a bill would enable the hiring of 119 new officers, Barnes said, while a House version would expand it by 1,200 officers.
— Extension of the FAST Act, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act The infrastructure funding legislation expires Oct. 1, 2020.
— Awareness about the Real ID Oct. 1, 2020, is also the deadline for compliance to Real ID, a special designation on driver’s licenses. Barnes said 57 percent of American travelers are unaware of the upcoming deadline. She said 182 million Americans — about 72 percent of the population — have a standard driver’s license or are unsure if they have a Real ID-compliant license. Barnes said the association estimates that 80,000 people would not be able to board airplanes at the nation’s airports on the first day compliance is required and 500,000 would be affected the first week, costing the tourism economy an estimated $300 million.