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CEA: Show Attendance Was About 150,000

Two years ago, they were talking about restricting attendance

Attendance for the CES convention in January was just under 150,000, says the Consumer Electronics Association, which claims the four-day event is the world’s largest consumer technology trade show — and North America’s largest annual trade show of any kind.

CEA says Veris Consulting verified the 149,529 figure, as well as CES’ status as a massive tradeshow. International attendance was at 31,677, up 30% from last year, according to the association, which has been hosting the event for 45 years. It’s been in Vegas since ’78.

Attendance has been rebounding since a recent low in 2009. That year, the association issued a press release saying that its industry leader advisory board considered the show as having “succeeded beyond all expectations and that CEA should strive to restrict future attendance to 2009 attendance levels,” namely around 110,000 people.

The organization also said then that it had added a new $100 pre-registration fee to “manage show attendance”; and President/CEO Gary Shapiro was quoted in the release saying, “Our board concluded that it is essential to have the right people attend CES. … Quality trumps quantity when it comes to exhibitors and attendees conducting business at CES.”

In response to an e-mail query, a CEA spokeswoman told Radio World, “We are still most certainly focused on quality vs. quantity industry attendance and continue to make this a top priority. It just so happened that, even with this strategy in place, we drew 149K attendees to the 2011 International CES.”