Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | 7:32 a.m.
Las Vegas has seen 402 conventions and meetings canceled from October to mid-March, USA Today reported.
The newspaper said Las Vegas and Orlando, the nation's top destinations for business events, respectively, have been among the hardest hit as the recession reduced convention activity. Compounding the problem, some companies have canceled events in order to avoid negative publicity over perceived extravagant spending.
Citing the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, USA Today said the 402 cancellations cost the Las Vegas area's economy $166 million -- not counting lost gambling revenue.
The numbers are in line with convention attendance numbers from the LVCVA. In Las Vegas, convention attendance totaled 583,168 people in February, down 35 percent from February 2008.
Orlando has had 114 meetings scheduled for this year canceled as of late last month at a cost to the local economy of $26 million, USA Today reported, citing the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The LVCVA said last month it is working hard to provide its hotel partners, clients and the business community with the tools and incentives to "offer balance'' to the discussion of meetings and business travel.
"We have to ensure that the value and importance of the meetings and convention industry is made clear," Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA president and CEO, said in a statement. "It is essential that we work hard to continue to promote business travel to Las Vegas."
The LVCVA said it launched a comprehensive, online toolkit to provide information and resources for clients and hotel partners to stay abreast of developments in the meetings industry. Clients can access statistics, client testimonials and other information showing the reasons events are successful in Las Vegas, the LVCVA said. Hotel partners were provided tools to promote group travel to the destination, as well as updates on developments in business and Congress on the industry. The toolkit is online at www.vegasmeansbusiness.com.
"Recently, a prominent financial firm canceled a meeting in Las Vegas and moved it to another city because of the perception that Las Vegas is a 'fun' trip or an unwarranted extravagance. We admit, Las Vegas is more fun than any other place on the planet. Guilty as charged. However, serious business is done here every day. Las Vegas has been the No. 1 destination for meetings and conventions for many years now. We have more meeting space, more convention space and more hotel rooms in a concentrated area than any other destination in the world. It's the perfect infrastructure for successful meetings,'' the LVCVA said on the Web site.
The 22,000 meetings and conventions annually in Las Vegas provide 46,000 jobs and $8.5 billion in economic activity, the LVCVA said.