Las Vegas Casino Tourism Still on the Decline; Airport Travel Stalled

The city of Las Vegas relies on airport travel to run its economy. Because the city is a gambling mecca, travelers come from all over the United States as well as abroad to take part in gambling, dining, shows, even conventions, and business meetings. However, since early last year, the city has seen a major slow down in tourism as well as air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and fear of the virus have led to a steady decline in both sectors.

Slump Remains

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas saw a huge decline in travel just last month, at around 64%. The slowdown from the airport is being felt heavily at local casinos. According to reports, just over 1.5 million people arrived and departed from the airport in January. This is far below the more than 4.1 million from January 2020.

Since COVID-19 began in March, the state has a decline in air travel by over 30 million people. Since air travel has been on a major decline, the city of Las Vegas has seen far less visitors. The nearest large city to the area is Los Angeles and it is a four-hour drive by car. Phoenix is around five hours away.

Last year, just over 19 million people visited Las Vegas. This was more than 55% lower than 2019. This number is so low that you have to go back to 1989 to find a comparison.

Because fewer people are traveling to Las Vegas, the revenue totals remain low. Last month, the total casino win in the city was almost 44% less than the previous year.

Hoping for a Turnaround

Officials of casinos in Las Vegas are hoping for a turnaround. Executives of casinos have started to make changes in the hopes that people will be traveling to Sin City again soon. In early February, MGM Resorts announced that it would start offering weekly operations again at three of the casinos on the Strip. The Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and Park MGM had stopped offering hotel service mid-week due to low demand.

Starting on March 3, the three facilities will be open seven days a week. Bill Hornbuckle, the CEO, and president of MGM Resorts, commented that the company feels the demand for travel and visitors will be back in Las Vegas later this year.

Other casinos though are still closed due to the lack of tourism. The Encore venue located on the Strip, operated by Wynn Las Vegas, is not opening during the week.

All eyes will be on Las Vegas over the coming weeks to see if travel picks up. For many, it seems though if people start to travel again, it will open the flood gates, and everyone will be making their way to Sin City.

Operators are hoping for the best in order to try and gain some ground from last year’s losses. Operators were hit hard by the pandemic and closing down as well as operating at a lower capacity has caused a huge deficit in earnings.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.