Las Vegas tourism on the rise, but unemployment in second place in the United States

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Posted on: July 1, 2021, 3:07 a.m.

Last update on: July 1, 2021, 03:27 hrs.

Las Vegas tourism lags behind pre-pandemic levels, but shows month-to-month improvement, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. At the same time, unemployment in Las Vegas remains high.

Las Vegas sign
The iconic Las Vegas sign greets visitors to the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. The number of tourists visiting the city increased in May. (Picture: KUNR)

In May, nearly 2.9 million people visited Las Vegas, up 11.9% from April. However, the number of visitors in May is 22% lower than the May 2019 total, the Las Vegas Review reported.

Tourism officials are using pre-pandemic figures to compare the region’s situation as it recovers from one-year COVID-19 restrictions.

This is the third consecutive month that more than 2 million visitors have visited Las Vegas. In March, more than 2.2 million people visited the region. That number rose to 2.57 million in April.

The increase in tourism is also evident in the number of passengers arriving and departing from McCarran International Airport. The airport is on the southeast end of the Strip, near the Tropicana, MGM Grand, and other major resorts.

In May, 3.5 million passengers used the airport, topping April’s total of 2.9 million, according to the Clark County Aviation Department.

Midweek vacancies

When COVID-19 cases started to increase in March 2020, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) ordered the casinos to close. It allowed them to reopen in June 2020, although several did not start operating for months after that. Some resorts in the state are still closed.

With the nationwide rollout of vaccinations and stimulus checks earlier this year, tourism to Las Vegas has started to increase. Last month, the state lifted capacity restrictions on casinos. Most casino experts believe that the volume of visitors to Las Vegas will increase with the return of international travelers and conventions.

International visitors and conventioneers are seen as essential to filling the huge hotel towers of the Strip, especially during slower mid-week days. Last year, several resorts closed their hotel rooms mid-week due to declining consumer demand.

The midweek hotel occupancy rate in May 2021 was 62.8%. That number is 25.3 percentage points lower than in May 2019, the newspaper reported. However, the weekend occupancy rate in May was 87.8%, less than nine percentage points from May 2019.

High unemployment rate

Even with an increase in tourism, the The unemployment rate in Las Vegas remains high.

Las Vegas’ unemployment rate of 8.9% in May was the second highest in the country for metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Los Angeles led the country’s major metropolitan areas in unemployment in May at 9.1%.

Las Vegas’s figure in May was well below the unemployment rate of 34.2% last year, when COVID-19 infections were on the rise, according to the the Wall Street newspaper. It was the highest unemployment rate in the country.


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