Gaming industry and tourism insiders expected hundreds of thousands of visitors to descend on Las Vegas for what promised to be the busiest holiday weekend since before the pandemic.
Judging by the early afternoon crowds gathered at McCarran International Airport on Friday, it looks like they won’t be disappointed. Outside, lines of people waiting for an Uber or Lyft were visible, but the lines didn’t appear to be excessively long.
Passengers arriving inside looked set to have a good time, with some stopping to take selfies at an Instagram location with a backdrop of “What happens in Las Vegas only happens in Las Vegas,” and others awaiting their luggage watched a suspended LED screen playing an advertisement featuring the all-new Resorts World Las Vegas, followed by an advertisement touting the return of the Cirque du Soleil “O”.
And why shouldn’t they be? It’s the first major holiday weekend since COVID-19 restrictions on capacity, gatherings and crowd sizes were lifted statewide in June, and July 4 falls on a Sunday, putting in place an optimal three-day weekend.
“In a way, it’s really New Years Eve because it’s the start of the post-COVID-19 world,” said Amanda Belarmino, hospitality professor at UNLV.
She expects the vacation weekend to be important for all travel destinations in the United States, but Las Vegas in particular. She said this weekend could draw the biggest crowd in town since 2019.
“American consumers are embarking on a wave of travel and spending, and I would expect this weekend to be incredibly busy,” she said.
It’s also a weekend of premieres in Las Vegas. Not only is it the state’s first major holiday since the unrestricted COVID-19 pandemic, but also the first concert at the Allegiant Stadium with the performer of Electronic Dance Music Illenium and the first weekend of July 4th. for the three new Las Vegas Valley resorts.
The Vegas Call
The weekend also marks the return of artists such as Dave Chappelle and Bruno Mars. It was the luck to see Mars perform that propelled Rockville, Maryland, residents Rick and Jenny Levine to fly to Las Vegas for the weekend. They sprang out of Las Vegas waiting for their luggage to spin around the corner of a baggage claim carousel at Terminal 1 at the airport.
The couple are staying at Park MGM this weekend, where they will attend the March concert on Saturday night. This will allow Jenny Levine, 60, to cross this item off her “bucket list.”
She and Rick Levine, 61, have been to Las Vegas every few months since 2017, when they came for a family wedding. Before that, she said, she was skeptical of Las Vegas. This feeling changed on this first trip. “Well, I came for her wedding, and I’m like ‘I’m addicted’,” she said.
Now, she says, she and her husband enjoy restaurants, hotels, activities and energy.
Tourist Kris Mummel will not forget her visit here anytime soon. It marked her first flight, her first time in Las Vegas and soon her first zipline.
“Oh, I have to touch a palm tree,” she added. “I had never seen a palm tree before. I didn’t know they had them here. I was like, ‘Oh, look at the trees!’ “
Mummel, a 58-year-old resident of Mattoon, Ill., And her partner, Vince Trimble, stood in the middle of Linq Parkway on Friday night and pointed their phones at the ziplines above their heads. It was their next stop.
The two, who are staying at Sahara Las Vegas, said they decided to come to Las Vegas because it was vacation time. They said they needed a break from work, to redo their pond and build a beach in their country house.
Big numbers expected
The couple are among the 300,000 people expected in Las Vegas over the long weekend.
Neither the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority nor the airport provided tour projections, although a spokesperson for McCarran Airport said the number of plane seats to Las Vegas was lower. at 5% of the total around July 4, 2019.
In 2018 and 2019, around 330,000 people visited Las Vegas over the weekend of July 4 and spent more than $ 235 million, according to the convention authority.
“We have long viewed the 4th of July weekend as an important weekend for the destination now that we have fully reopened with the return of beloved live shows, concerts and an array of” Only experiences Vegas “for our visitors to enjoy,” spokeswoman Lori Nelson-Kraft said Friday. “To top it off, we are delighted to host a spectacular fireworks display that will light up the skies on Sunday night across the famous Las Vegas Strip.”
Several Strip casino hotels are expected to launch from their rooftops on Sunday night, with Plaza lighting up the downtown skyline on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Station Casinos will have their own fireworks displays at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch resorts.
“Vegas is back”
If tourists hadn’t heard the ‘Vegas is back’ message, then they would see it on the Strip – literally. A political advertisement on a digital billboard at the corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard read “Vegas is back.” America is back. Thanks Biden / Harris. Thank you Democrats. It was posted as Vice President Kamala Harris visited unionized workers several miles away on Saturday afternoon.
Some visitors to the Strip on Saturday felt the sentiment. Shekeya McCallister was out with five friends for the weekend on her fourth visit to the city.
“I know a lot of businesses had to close and some stayed closed, so it’s good to see the lines,” said McCallister, from Texas. “I saw the new hotel that opened; it is very nice. I hope it will stay strong.
The group arrived on Thursday and are staying at an Airbnb while they explore the Strip, mountain biking and attend Megan Thee Stallion’s concert at the Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace.
The group said it was special to get together for a girls’ trip since they come from all over the country.
“So far, despite the weather, it has been very adventurous,” said McCallister. “I’ve never been to a concert here before, and going with a group of girls is so much fun.”
Around the Strip on Saturday afternoon, tourists strolled through the air-conditioned casino floors with dozens of full tables and ringing slot machines. The groups cheered as they crossed pedestrian bridges, took photos with showgirls, and waited for fountain shows. Weddings posed in front of the crystal chandeliers of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Dozens of guests waited to enter the Flamingo Pool as the temperature rose above triple digits. Customers at Caesars Palace slowly worked across the line to enter the Bacchanale buffet.
Still, some tourists said they didn’t feel it was overcrowded. Chris and Kay Spence of Arkansas arrived with their two teenage sons on Saturday morning to spend the week in southern Nevada. The couple said they had no issues at the airport or at other points on their trip.
Kay Spence, who has visited Vegas three times, said it wasn’t the only vacation she and her family had taken in the past 18 months, but it was their first time to return to Vegas. . Compared to previous visits, she said it seemed less rowdy.
“It’s a little less busy, but it’s good,” she said.
“Extra, very busy”
Josh Swissman, founding partner of consultancy firm The Strategy Organization, said earlier this week that he believed a confluence of vaccinations, the lifting of restrictions, pent-up demand, the holidays themselves and the weekend three days are the recipe for an “extra, extra busy weekend.”
Then factor in the return of nightlife, entertainment, and day clubs and the June 24 debut of the $ 4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas mega-fort, not to mention the openings in recent months of Circa and Virgin Hotels. Las Vegas and their aquatic complexes.
It’s an invigorating blend. Rick Levine has said he and his wife are considering retiring to Las Vegas. In the meantime, they will enjoy their stay and find a place to watch the fireworks on Sunday. Maybe they’ll just watch from their hotel room, he said.
“How many cities (are there) that people come to town for July 4th knowing that it will be 105, 110 degrees?” Not a lot of places, ”he said.