17 conventions in Kansas City canceled due to COVID-19
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.
Workers from MTB Services Inc. clean windows at the new Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel.