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Little Rock convention chief says planning for pandemics now a long-term business strategy

Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Gretchen Hall is seeing signs of recovery in her industry, but there is still a lag from 2019 numbers.
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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Gretchen Hall is seeing signs of recovery in her industry, but there is still a lag from 2019 numbers and the new Delta variant surge of COVID-19 threatens the progress that’s been made.

Many of the city’s restaurants have adapted to the “new normal” and overall hotel revenue is improving. Hall said that downtown, where convention business is centered, is the farthest from full recovery as group travel remains tenuous.

“So a first half look at 2021, we’re still behind on total revenue on the hotels by about 15%, but making huge strides. So we’ll see how long we can maintain that number. We’re seeing a real recovery in total events coming back, but the large group meetings and conventions are still lagging a little bit and we don’t anticipate that return until next year,” she said.

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