Las Vegas has already made a covid comeback, but something just changed that will make it much better.
It started with March Madness and continued through the National Football League (NFL) Draft leading into what looks like a potentially record-setting summer. Las Vegas turned the corner on the covid pandemic and saw visitors flock to the Las Vegas Strip hotels operated by Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report Wynn Resorts (WYNN) – Get Wynn Resorts Limited Report, and others.
Las Vegas has risen from the ashes of the covid pandemic and some of the negatives hurting other travel destinations — high gas prices and overall inflation — may actually benefit Sin City. With hotels serving everything from high rollers to people on a budget as well as many discount airlines flying to the city, Las Vegas appears poised for a huge summer.
“Despite the dramatic increases in gas prices, pent-up demand for travel seems to be winning out at this point,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Spokesperson Lori Nelson-Kraf told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
After two years of lockdowns, quarantines, and travel restrictions, Americans want to ditch their masks and hit the road. Las Vegas seems well poised to benefit from this as it has everything from its signature casinos to a huge array of entertainment options, concert headliners, Carrot Top, and major sporting events.
Now, a new decision by the U.S. government should drive up occupancy rates for Caesars, MGM, Wynn, and the rest of the Las Vegas casino/resort operators.
Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty
Las Vegas Welcomes Back the World
After a lot of lobbying from the travel and tourism industry, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has dropped its covid testing requirement for international travelers. The previous policy required a negative test taken no more than one day before boarding a flight to the U.S.
That didn’t make international travelers coming to the U.S. impossible, but it added a layer of complication. The new rule, which goes into effect June 12, takes away that extra layer of inconvenience.
“Expanding international travel has been a top priority for our industry, the state of Nevada and the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and we are grateful to the Biden administration and congressional leaders for their collaboration on this issue,” MGM CEO Hornbuckle said, reported the Review-Journal. “…The United States is home to some of the most popular, iconic destinations in existence and is a beacon for visitors from around the world. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome those visitors back and showcase everything our company, industry and country have to offer.”
The CDC did say that it plans to review its decision on covid testing for international travel every 90 days.
It’s a Las Vegas Summer!
Restrictions places on international travelers have contributed to Las Vegas not being as busy at it usually is. That has begun to improve, however, reported the Las Vegas Sun.
“Through the first four months of this year, Harry Reid International Airport has served nearly 549,000 international passengers, compared to about 758,000 for all of last year, according to figures from the airport. In April alone, about 200,000 international travelers passed through the airport, signaling an increase of about 170,000 passengers from April 2021,” according to the paper.
Global travelers traditionally flock to Las Vegas not just for leisure, but for the conventions that were either cancelled or held in a hybrid virtual/in-person format during the pandemic.
“Last year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, only 3% of all travelers to Las Vegas came from a foreign country. In 2018, before the onset of the pandemic, that figure was 20%,” the Sun reported.
Now, one more barrier has been removed and the Las Vegas Strip should go back to being a mix of travelers from all over the world.