Las Vegas feeling the heat as travellers skip Nevada

las vegas nevada usa

People who planned to travel to Las Vegas are increasingly having second thoughts about their vacations as coronavirus cases have shot through the roof in Nevada.

Members of the Nevada Commission on Tourism met by videoconference earlier this week to hear how hard tourism has been hurt by coronavirus and how to move forward. Steve Hill, head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said the demand for Vegas visits was higher than expected when casinos reopened earlier this month but a drumbeat of bad news has chilled the enthusiasm.

“That information has started to cause the numbers that we have seen improving, primarily around intent to travel, start to deteriorate a little bit,” Hill said. “We have regressed a little over the past three weeks, and that’s simply driven by the health situation and the health concerns of our potential visitors.”

On questions about when international flights to Las Vegas would resume, whether rodeos could fill seats and when conferences of more than 50 people would be back, Hill responded that “projecting things based on a calendar at this point is more difficult than projecting things based on the health situation.”

Kyle Shulz, the research manager at Travel Nevada, graphed out the most optimistic scenario in which room occupancy would reach normal levels by next May if a COVID-19 vaccine was developed. In the most pessimistic model, coronavirus flares up again to the point that Nevada experiences another multi-month shutdown early next year and tourism revenue tanks.

For now, the agency, which focuses on promoting rural areas of the state that don’t already have an established tourism promotion arm, is trying to sell Nevada as an attractive destination for socially distanced vacations. They’re also planning to keep a close watch on changes in potential traveller behavior and pivot as needed. 

“Our core value of freedom positions us really well as people begin to look for more wide-open travel experiences,” said M.E. Kawchak, chief marketing officer for Travel Nevada. “We must be sure that all of our creative content remains consistently aligned to promote safe travel and will continue to be fluid in our ever-changing environment.”