COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus is feeling the financial effects of not being host to trade shows, conventions, and other events since the COVID-19 pandemic started. According to Experience Columbus, 166 groups have canceled representing 232,543 room nights and $197 million in estimated direct visitor spending.
“That’s quite a major impact from a negative standpoint on the visitors spending in our community,” said Brian Ross, President & CEO of Experience Columbus.
Thousands of jobs have also been lost. According to Tourism Economics, the Columbus area lost a little more than 47,000 jobs from February to April in the leisure and hospitality sector. Tourism Economics also says the city has lost 52% of expected bed tax collections which Ross says comes out to about $6 million.
“It’s a major loss and that’s what we know right now. That could change as we move forward,” he said.
Many local businesses are also taking a hit. Arena District based Eagle Exhibit Services designs, puts together, and sells displays for trade shows and other events in Columbus and around the country. But without any conventions they haven’t had any business.
“The event industry is in hibernation at this point,” said Larry Wood, President of Eagle Exhibit Services. “Cash flow is nearly non existent at this point for us.”
Ross does expect the meetings and trade shows to come back but just not right away.
“As a whole, we definitely will see meetings come back in the future. It won’t be for a while,” he said.
Some of the groups that had to cancel have already recommitted to Columbus. According to Experience Columbus, nine groups have rescheduled their meetings for later this year and 16 have rescheduled for future years.