The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released a new report detailing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry in Southern Nevada. Besides decreased visitor volume, tradeshow activities, and air passenger counts, the report outlined that unemployment in the region spiked in 2020.
Southern Nevada Tourism Suffers Because of Pandemic
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted businesses, sports, and traveling on a global scale. The regular sports schedule of some of the most popular sports was disrupted and even the Olympic Games were postponed to 2021, all because of the pandemic. Undoubtedly, the gambling and hospitality industry in Las Vegas will remember the pandemic as perhaps the most difficult period it has ever been through.
Now, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) with the help of Applied Analytics, revealed a new report detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the Southern Nevada tourism industry. The report offers insight into how the pandemic impacted visitor volume, convention and trade show activities, as well as air passenger counts. Additionally, the newly released paper reveals how COVID-19 impacted visitor spending, economic output, and unemployment. Key findings of the report outline that in 2020:
- The visitor volume dropped to 19.0 million in 2020
- On average, unemployment in the Southern Nevada region hit 14.7%
- Visitor spending plunged to $17.6 billion
- Direct tourism-related employment decreased by 32.5% to 163,800 jobs
Visitor Volume, Convention and Tradeshow Activities and Air Passenger Counts Plunge
Although different traveling restrictions and COVID-related closures contributed toward decreasing visitor volume last year, the region hit its lowest annual point since 1989. In 2020, 19.0 million people visited Las Vegas. Compared to 2019, this marks a staggering 55% decrease. With that in mind, in January and February, 2020 visitation hit record volumes but those could not offset the temporary closures and COVID-related restrictions that severely impacted the industry all throughout 2020.
“Global travel demand in 2020 was severely hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of travel restrictions to and from the United States,”explains LVCVA’s latest report
Last year, air passenger counts at McCarran International airport reached 22.2 million. Compared to 2019, when the air passenger count hit 51.5 million, we observe a decrease of 56.9%. Furthermore, in 2020, the air passenger count marked its lowest yearly total since 1992.
Even more severe downfall was observed when it comes to convention and trade show activities in 2020. Last year, Southern Nevada convention attendees reached 1.7 million. This marked a 74.0% decrease when compared to the record value of 6.6 million attendees in 2019. Moreover, in 2020, the region recorded its lowest convention attendees total since 1989.
Unemployment Rate Spikes, Economic Output Plunges in 2020
Dining, shopping, spending from visitors on rooms, transportation, and more customer amenities are key factors that economically impact tourism in Southern Nevada. In 2019, the total economic output related to visitor spending hit $63.6 billion. This marked approximately a third of the region’s gross economic output. However, the decreased number of visitors combined with less spending by visitors resulted in the economic impact of Southern Nevada’s tourism industry dropping by 53.5% to $29.6 billion last year.
“The annual average unemployment rate of 14.7 percent in 2020 was the highest in Southern Nevada history,”LVCVA report
Similarly, the pandemic impacted wages and salaries as well as the total employment of the region. While in 2019, there were 242,500 direct tourism-related jobs, that number plummeted to 163,800 jobs in 2020. This marked a decrease of 32.5%.
Southern Nevada’s unemployment rate was also impacted by the pandemic last year. In 2019, the annual average unemployment rate for the region halted at 4.1%, which is the lowest point in the last 10 years. However, in 2020, unemployment spiked to 14.7%, marking the highest recorded value in Southern Nevada history.
Las Vegas May Face New Challenges
Although the report described the material economic losses in 2020, it did reveal that the “economic conditions and shortfalls have persisted into early 2021.” Indeed the pandemic brought difficulties for the gambling and hospitality industry, which is now facing a slow recovery. Moreover, it looks like Las Vegas is yet to face another challenge, considering the return of mandatory wearing of masks. Last week, Governor Steve Sisolak ordered the obligatory return of face masks for 12 out of Nevada’s 17 counties. The mandatory mask policy includes Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.