By now, everyone knows that 2021 has brought the return of Las Vegas as a bustling tourism mecca. The Strip is booming, fully open as of June 1. Some couldn’t wait even that long—March alone brought over 2 million visitors to Sin City, the highest total since just before February 2020. Concerts, sporting events, pool parties—all that makes Sin City unique is back.
Less flashy, perhaps, but no less important is the resumption of the city’s convention business. In a typical year, conventions, trade shows, and business conferences bring $11 billion dollars of revenue to the Las Vegas metropolitan area. They are the city’s lifeblood. Recently, Steve Hill, the CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was quoted as saying, “What you see on the Strip would not make sense to build” were it not for conventions. While it may take a bit for the convention business to fully ramp up to pre-pandemic numbers, many have used last year’s lull to enhance the city’s convention experience.
In June, the Las Vegas Convention Center unveiled its brand-new $1 billion, 1.4 million square foot West Hall expansion. With throngs of execs and business owners preferring to put their year’s worth of Zoom calls behind them, this new wing promises a state-of-the-art experience, with an expansive, column-free vendor area, up to 80 meeting rooms, a third-floor outdoor terrace and more. With this additional space, the LVCC is now the second-largest convention space in the country, running over 4.5 million square feet in total.
And the West Hall is already seeing business. On June 8th, it hosted the return of the World of Concrete Convention, one of the nation’s largest, and one of the first to return to Vegas as travel restrictions end. By all accounts, it was a success, featuring 650 exhibitors located in the North Hall and part of the new West Hall. Attendance was healthy (and grew!) across the three days of the event, and it was clear that Strip was more happy to accommodate its attendees.
The LVCC also boasts an even greater, more innovative addition, courtesy of Elon Musk. World of Concrete attendees were the first to take the Loop, a mile-and-a-half-long transportation system located underneath the LVCC. Built by Musk’s Boring Company for over $50 million, it transports convention goers across the facility in speed and comfort. As it takes nearly 45 minutes to walk across the LVCC, the appeal of a five-minute end-to-end jaunt is obvious. Musk hopes to expand these two tunnels to other areas of the city. Not merely convenient, the Loop may well be a sign of how we will travel in the future. For now, it promises to serve as yet another Sin City attraction in its own right, joining the famous Las Vegas monorail as iconic modes of transport.
After a quiet year, Las Vegas is on the move. Quarantine provided plenty of time for the city’s movers and shakers to plan how to make Vegas even more impressive and unique once the city could reopen in full. Las Vegas is poised for its convention business to come roaring back– bigger and better than ever.