Crushed by pandemic, conventions mount a cautious return

National

People walk through the convention floor at the ASD Market Week convention Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in Las Vegas. In pre-COVID times, business events like conferences and trade shows routinely attracted more than 1 billion participants and $1 trillion in direct spending each year. The pandemic brought those gatherings to a sudden halt, and now in-person meetings are on the rebound from Las Vegas to Beijing. (AP Photo/John Locher)

In pre-COVID times, business events like conferences and trade shows routinely attracted more than 1 billion participants and $1 trillion in direct spending each year. The pandemic brought those gatherings to a sudden halt. More than a year later, in-person meetings are on the rebound from Las Vegas to Beijing.

But experts say it could be years before conventions attract the crowds they did before the pandemic. Many countries and companies still have travel restrictions in place. And health concerns remain. Others say the shift to virtual meetings over the last year could be a permanent change.

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