Vegas' year-end numbers were the worst in decades

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Visitor numbers were down 55.2% year over year in Las Vegas in 2020.
Visitor numbers were down 55.2% year over year in Las Vegas in 2020.

Bleak year-end numbers released recently show the precipitous effects of the pandemic on Las Vegas tourism.

Slightly more than 19 million visited Las Vegas in 2020 -- a 55.2% drop from 2019's 42.5 million, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The year was the worst for visitation since 1989, the year that the Mirage opened on the Strip. The city's record was 42.9 million in 2016.

Fewer people meant less casino revenues, which totaled $7.8 billion for 2020 in Nevada, down 34.6% from the previous year and the lowest for a calendar year since 1997, according to the state Gaming Control Board. The figure was about $12 billion in 2018 and 2019.

"The reason for the decrease to this calendar year was the result of the suspension of gaming operations from March 18 through June 4 due to Covid-19," the report said. "This 78-day closure had a significant impact on gaming [revenue] amounts."

In December specifically, casino revenue in the state totaled $683.7 million, down 35.4% from the same month in 2019  marking it the worst full month statewide since August 1997.

McCarran Airport served 22.2 million passengers in 2020, its first year-over-year decline since 2010 and a 56% decrease from 2019 when a record 51.5 million arrived or departed.

"We remain committed to doubling down on our efforts to ensure the airport is a safe and healthy environment for those choosing to travel as we begin our comeback in 2021," said Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County director of aviation. "I have confidence that the vaccine will be a stimulus to air travel."

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