After roughly two months of deliberation, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) has cancelled the 2020 Convention and Trade Show, originally slated for July 10—14 at the Sands/Venetian Convention Center in Las Vegas.
The decision comes after a vote by the PCA board, determining that COVID-19 public health and safety concerns would make a convention—generally consisting of thousands of guests and close contact—unfeasible. Reportedly, this will be the first year the convention has been cancelled since the organization’s formation in 1933. Today’s announcement comes one week after the Nevada Gaming Commission approved guidelines for reopening, including the limiting of casinos to 50 percent maximum occupancy and conventions limited to 250 people.
Talk of this year’s trade show has been at the forefront of cigar news and conversation since the 2019 event last summer, where the organization announced major changes such as a name change (formerly IPCPR) and a new event structure that allowed consumers attendance, among others. The latter received tremendous pushback, eventually causing the PCA to push the concept back at least one year. In January of this year the PCA lost its four largest exhibitors (Drew Estate, General Cigar Co., Altadis USA, and Davidoff), with the four citing concerns over trade show attendance in recent years, increasing costs to exhibit, the time of year the event is held, and the organization’s lack of vision for the years to come. This caused repercussions of other notable event pullouts, including some of the industry’s largest purchasers, as well as spurring interest in the PCA’s largest (and rapidly growing) competitor: Tobacco Plus Expo International (TPE).
In early March, as nearly all major events began delaying or cancelling activities, the PCA issued a somewhat surprising announcement that they were committed to carrying on the 2020 trade show as scheduled. Many argued that the COVID-19 pandemic provided the organization the break it desperately needed, averting the foreseen catastrophic exodus of event attendees for the summer trade show and buying time to regather and run against the narrative of their “lack of vision.” Today’s announcement has the outward appearance of being more of a surprise to the PCA itself than to its members or casual onlookers.