6 Reasons To Feel Optimistic About The Future of Las Vegas Tourism
You probably don’t need us to tell you how tough 2020 was for Las Vegas tourism. The city saw it’s visitor numbers drop from 42.5 million in 2019 to just 17.7 million in 2020. MGM Resorts, the parent company of the Bellagio, Luxor, and seven other Strip properties, reported a $495 million operating loss in quarter three. And unemployment claims reached a record high of 34.2% in April 2020.
But as dark as 2020 was for Las Vegas, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of Las Vegas tourism. Keep reading to discover six things that are looking good for Las Vegas in 2021 and beyond.
1. Nevada Is On Track For A Summer Reopening
Crowds grow every week as Las Vegas loosens COVID restrictions.
Starting on May 1, control over coronavirus mitigation measures passed from the state to counties. This will allow counties to have more control over capacity limits, social distancing guidelines, and business reopenings.
In Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, this means major changes. Saturday, May 1, capacity in casinos, bars, and restaurants will increase from 50% to 80%. Similarly, social distancing requirements will decrease from 6 feet to 3 feet. Perhaps the biggest change is the reopening of dayclubs, nightclubs, and adult entertainment (all of which have remained closed since March 2020). The statewide mask mandate will remain in effect until further notice.
Capacity and social distancing requirements will be removed when 60% of the eligible population (those 16 and older) receives at least one dose of a vaccine. According to the state’s most recent figures, 60.1% of those eligible have received at least one shot.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak is confident that all statewide restrictions (with the exception of mask-wearing) will be lifted by June 1.
2. Cirque du Soleil Is Ready For A Comeback
Cirque du Soleil’s oldest shows ‘Mystère’ and ‘O’ will be the first to return.
Nevada’s reopening is great news for entertainment companies, particularly Cirque du Soleil. While COVID-related closures caught many businesses off guard, Cirque was particularly vulnerable.
Not only does the Canadian company rely on large gatherings to make its money, but the entire operation depends on a well-functioning network of cargo ships, trucks, hotels, and food-service businesses, all of which ground to a halt in early 2020.
What’s more, all five of the company’s Strip shows have been closed since March 2020. Unsurprisingly, Cirque reported $1 billion of debt in mid-2020, leading to a June 2020 bankruptcy filing.
But even with the odds stacked against them, Cirque du Soleil is poised to make a big comeback in 2021. At the end of April company leadership announced that its two longest running Las Vegas Strip shows will be returning in time for summer.
“Mystère,” which originally opened in 1993, will return to the Treasure Island stage on June 28. “O” at Bellagio, first arrived in 1998 and plans to reopen on July 1. Both reopenings are being planned for full capacity without social distancing in their respective theaters.
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group president and CEO Daniel Lamarre is optimistic about the reopening and expects to have a better idea of ticket sales in the coming weeks. He also noted his (pleasant) surprise about how quickly Las Vegas is returning to normal.
If things continue as they’re going, Cirque expects to reopen “The Beatles LOVE” at Mirage in July, “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay near the end of August, then “KÁ” at MGM Grand in September or October.
In terms of what’s changing, Cirque Senior Vice President Eric Grilly noted that cast members won’t interact with audience members as they did in the past. What’s more, safety measures like paperless ticketing and heightened cleaning protocols will be added. Despite these minor changes, Grilly is confident shows will continue to be what “people have come to know and love.”
Indeed, most things about Cirque shows won’t change. Food and drink concessions will be available during shows. And no adjustments to the theater are necessary because advanced ventilation systems are already in place.
Due to its prominence in the Las Vegas entertainment world, many industry insiders are looking to Cirque’s comeback as a signal that the city’s entertainment industry as a whole is back.
3. Plenty Of COVID-Safe Activities Are Already Open
One reason to feel optimistic about the future of Las Vegas tourism is that plenty of attractions are already open.
It’s clear that things are rapidly improving in Las Vegas. Capacity limits are increasing, businesses are seeing an uptick in sales, and live entertainment is getting ready to return in a big way. By summer, Las Vegas will likely look very similar to pre-COVID 2020.
But even though things are looking up, you don’t have to wait months or even weeks to enjoy all kinds of Las Vegas activities. Businesses of all kinds have adapted their operations to comply with state regulations, while still maintaining an enjoyable guest experience.
For example, you can enjoy the 360-degree views from LINQ Hotel’s High Roller Observation Wheel while staying safe and socially distanced from other visitors. Or you can enjoy an outdoor walking tour based around food, history or art.
To see even more COVID-safe activities that have already reopened, check out our guide.
4. Hotel Occupancy Is Up
Hotel occupancy rates continue to increase week after week.
Perhaps one of the best indicators of how the tourism industry is doing are hotel occupancy rates. In February 2020, just weeks before the city shut down, occupancy rates were at 86.8%, a figure that’s held relatively constant for the past decade.
February 2021 saw average occupancy around 42%. While much lower than years past, this figure still represents a 10.4 percent increase from January to February.
This trend promises to continue in the coming months as more and more visitors feel confident returning to Las Vegas. Much of this is thanks to an increase in the number of people vaccinated and the state’s reopening schedule.
5. Some Shows Have Already Reopened
Legendary illusionist David Copperfield was one of the first acts to return to the Vegas stage.
The Strip’s biggest shows are still a few months away from reopening, but plenty of smaller acts have already resumed performances. Indeed, an estimated 40 shows are currently showing in Las Vegas.
For example, master illusionist David Copperfield has been performing his 90-minute magic/comedy show at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater since February 15. Other favorites like Carrot Top, Tape Face, Piff the Magic Dragon, and Thunder From Down Under have also been performing the past few months.
Interested in seeing our top picks for 2021’s best shows? Check out the guide!
6. Conferences Are Returning
The Las Vegas Convention Center won’t be empty for much longer!
Conferences are a big part of the Las Vegas economy. These events help the city’s bottom line in a couple of major ways. Not only do they contribute massively to midweek hotel bookings, but they’re also huge spenders. On average convention attendees spend double the amount of money than gaming and vacation tourists. In 2019, they contributed $6.6 billion to the local economy.
There hasn’t been a major conference since March 2020, but that will change soon. The World of Concrete is scheduled at the Las Vegas Convention Center in June. The conference, designed for those in the concrete and masonry industries, drew more than 60,000 attendees in 2019. This year’s event is scheduled for June 8-10 and plans to be an indoor-outdoor event within the Convention Center’s new West and North Halls.
A host of other conferences are slated to take place in the second half of 2021. And that’s not the only reason to feel optimistic about the future of Las Vegas tourism. A recent poll found that 91% of respondents miss the face-to-face interaction of in-person conferences and 58% are burned out from virtual business meetings and gatherings.
Another poll found that 74% of respondents believe Las Vegas is best prepared to safely host in-person events in the second half of 2021. Both of these bode well for the future of Las Vegas conferences.
The Future Of Las Vegas Tourism Is Bright
Here at Travel Gay Vegas, we couldn’t be happier about the coming months. This past year has been difficult, but things are looking up for a busy summer and fall.
We hope this guide has filled you with optimism and wish you safe travels on your next trip.