17 con­ven­tions in Kansas City can­celed due to COVID-19

The Kansas City Star - - Business - BY STEVE VOCKRODT svock­[email protected]­star.com Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vock­rodt

Visit KC, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes the Kansas City re­gion’s con­ven­tion and tourism in­dus­try, is re­port­ing that 17 planned con­ven­tions and event gath­er­ings have been can­celed through May.

The events would have rep­re­sented 55,000 room nights — a mea­sure in­di­cat­ing the ac­tual num­ber of ho­tel rooms booked by cus­tomers — and an es­ti­mated $47 mil­lion im­pact.

Ja­son Fulvi, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Visit KC, said con­cerns about COVID-19, the strain of coro­n­avirus that has trig­gered a pan­demic, is hav­ing a ma­jor im­pact on tourism and con­ven­tion busi­ness.

Lo­cal and state gov­ern­ments are re­spond­ing with state of emer­gency dec­la­ra­tions as in­fec­tions fig­ure to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally in the com­ing weeks. The Kansas City area re­ported its first death caused by coro­n­avirus on Thurs­day.

“This is world­wide,” Fulvi said. “It’s im­pact­ing tourism at a very big level.”

Losses to the global meet­ing and events busi­ness is ex­pected to es­ca­late well into the billions of dol­lars as the coro­n­avirus has spread around the world.

Fulvi de­clined to name the con­ven­tions planned for Kansas City that were can­celed. The Kansas City Con­ven­tion Cen­ter events cal­en­dar lists among the can­cel­la­tions the Greater Kansas City Home & Life­style Show March 13-15, the Be­lieve in Christ Youth Con­fer­ence March 27-28 and the Asics Show Me Na­tional Qual­i­fier vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment March 28-30.

The can­celed con­ven­tions are oc­cur­ring just as Loews in the Cross­roads Arts Dis­trict is pre­par­ing to open the city’s first new con­ven­tion ho­tel since 1985.

In Kansas City, there were seven ad­di­tional con­ven­tions and meet­ings that have de­cided not to can­cel but to resched­ule for later in the year, rep­re­sent­ing 10,000 room nights and a $17 mil­lion es­ti­mated eco­nomic im­pact that may be sal­vaged. Among those is Planet Comi­con, which had been sched­uled for March 2022 and is now con­sid­er­ing a late sum­mer or fall event.

Fulvi said Kansas City res­i­dents should con­sider vis­it­ing lo­cal at­trac­tions and restau­rants to help sup­port the re­gional econ­omy. Restau­rant own­ers and trade as­so­ci­a­tions told The Star this week that with the Big 12 Con­fer­ence bas­ket­ball tour­na­ments be­ing can­celed and lin­ger­ing con­cerns over the pan­demic that their busi­nesses face a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic hit.

“With spring break ap­proach­ing, maybe now is the time to con­sider do­ing some­thing in our home town, go­ing to some of our at­trac­tions, go­ing out to eat,” Fulvi said. “To help not only with the lo­cal econ­omy but sup­port­ing work­ers who are count­ing on that rev­enue for their own liveli­hood.”

Visit KC is funded in part by a share of Kansas City’s con­ven­tion and tourism tax on ho­tel and restau­rant pur­chases. Fulvi said it’s too early to tell if pro­jected tax rev­enues will take a dip through the rest of the year.

Kansas City Mayor Quin­ton Lu­cas’ pro­posed fis­cal year bud­get en­vi­sions a $200,000 re­duc­tion to the city’s con­tri­bu­tion to Visit KC. The fi­nal bud­get has not yet been ap­proved.

“We are still hav­ing on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions with our city lead­er­ship,” Fulvi said.

TAMMY LJUNGBLAD tljung­[email protected]­star.com

Work­ers from MTB Ser­vices Inc. clean win­dows at the new Loews Kansas City Con­ven­tion Cen­ter Ho­tel.

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