Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy
When we started the Go LIVE Together coalition in March 2020, we thought we were preparing for an autumn recovery. Clearly, that didn’t happen. For 2021, our priority remains the same: to get meetings and events reopened safely and quickly.
We’re not blind to the plight of the businesses in our space and the toll this protracted shutdown has taken. We are part of the Covid Relief Now Coalition of more than 300 organizations urging Congress to provide immediate financial relief to industries like ours. But we recognize that any package likely to pass will not go deep enough or far enough to help our industry if we cannot reopen soon.
As such, our legislative priorities remain focused on enabling our businesses to reopen—such as event-cancellation insurance, provisions to defray the added costs of cleaning and testing, and liability protection—as well as championing incentives that get attendees and exhibitors back to meetings and events. No other industry has the power to bring in over 300 million visitors annually, contributing over $75 billion in tax revenue to states—the loss of which will only compound the economic impact Covid is causing.
We’re helping officials understand how meetings and events are prepared to open safely with simulated events for local officials in Florida, Las Vegas, and California. As a result of the autumn event in Las Vegas, the governor increased event gathering size to 1,000 attendees and starting January 1 is allowing up to 50 percent capacity [accurate as of mid-December]. We are not asking for any exceptions, merely that officials extend the same rationale for allowing other types of gatherings to business meetings and events, which are prepared to follow the same protocols (enhanced cleaning, social distancing, mask wearing, etc.) There’s no way around the fact that this pandemic is unlikely to end soon. Our best hope to minimize the damage is to be allowed to reopen. In order to do that, we need to build confidence among officials and participants that reopening meetings and events will not contribute to the spread of Covid. Whether it’s GBAC certification and upgraded HVAC systems for facilities, investments in rapid testing, or other actions, our industry has proactively put health and safety first. We need legislators to recognize and consider those investments fairly. The nearly 7 million people who rely on business events for their livelihood are counting on it.