SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Attendance is picking up at in-person conventions returning to downtown San Diego.
It's a welcome site for businesses in the area who saw a drop in revenue during the pandemic, as well as those who missed in-person events.
"You can look at people in the eye and you can see their facial expressions and their body language and you can really respond to them. You don't get that on Zoom," said Dr. Lorna Ewert, Chief Scientific Officer for Boston-based Emulate.
Ewert and six of her colleagues were in town for this week's Society of Toxicology's annual conference at the Convention Center, along with 3,400 other attendees. Emulate attended to display its device called Zoë, which helps test and develop drugs.
"We've met over 100 people just yesterday alone who have come, who are interested in learning more," Ewert said. "We'll follow up with them. Not all 100 will buy it but even if half of them do that's a really good result."
But some groups are still missing from the crowds.
For instance, about 1,500 of the Society of Toxicology attendees are virtual. The Convention Center Corporation says attendance is running between 50 to 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels, depending on how much each event relies on corporate and international travel.
The organization expects attendance to fully recover by 2024. Meanwhile, tourism officials say leisure travel has returned in full force, filling hotels on weekends.