CES, the biggest tech show of the year, will be canceled in 2021 and held digitally

A Las Vegas Monorail car with a Google ad passes in front of the the Las Vegas Convention Center prior to the CES 2018 on January 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs from January 9-12 and features about 3,900 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 170,000 attendees. (Photo by )Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The physical version of CES, the annual major tech conference that takes place in Las Vegas, will be canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Instead, the conference will take place digitally, the Consumer Technology Association announced.
  • The cancellation of CES and other major conference will likely have a big impact on Las Vegas' tourism industry. More than 171,000 people attended CES in 2020.

CES, the largest tech conference of the year, will be canceled in 2021 and not held in its usual Las Vegas, the Consumer Technology Association announced on Tuesday, citing the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the event will be held digitally.

"With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person," the CTA said in a statement.

The CTA says it still plans to hold keynotes, conferences, product showcases, meetings, and networking events digitally. The show will return to Las Vegas in 2022, it said.Advertisement

The announcement also comes just after the CTA said in June that it still planned to host physical events for CES in January 2021.

CES is among the world's largest tech conferences, where tech companies from around the world gather to show off new products and technologies. The show began in 1967 in New York City with just 17,500 attendees and 250 exhibitors. In 2020, CES attracted 171,268 visitors and 4,419 exhibiting companies, according to the CTA.

Companies such as Samsung, Sony, and LG are usually among the most high-profile attendees, with flashy demonstrations and massive booths that often feel like their own miniature showroom floors within the Las Vegas Convention Center.
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With more than 171,000 attendees, the cancellation of CES is likely to have economic ramifications for Las Vegas. Beyond CES, Las Vegas has become a hub for conferences across many industries, and concerns had surfaced about the impact that canceled events would have on its economy even back in March. In 2019, 6.6 million people traveled to Las Vegas to attend conventions, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. In 2018, tourism brought $57.6 billion into Las Vegas.

The cancellation comes after major tech companies and event holders have been forced to shift their keynotes, gatherings, and events online throughout 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Apple held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference online for the first time in its 30-year history, for example. The CTA's decision to scrap the in-person version of CES is also further evidence that even as the US economy reopens, it will likely be a long time before large events resume in person. Advertisement

"Consumers are not going to want to flock back to really crowded large-format events for quite some time," Julia Hartz, CEO and cofounder of Eventbrite, said in a previous interview with Business Insider. "I would say that's the furthest out that we would see in terms of consumer confidence."

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