Las Vegas Airport Travel Slumps, Casinos Test New Concepts to Attract Tourists

Posted on: October 26, 2020, 01:26h. 

Last updated on: October 26, 2020, 02:57h.

Airport travel was down more than 60 percent in Las Vegas last month compared to September 2019. With fewer people flying because of the coronavirus pandemic, casinos are testing new strategies to attract customers.

McCarran International Airport
A sign at McCarran International Airport welcomes travelers to Las Vegas. Airport travel has fallen off since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. (Image: KTNV-TV)

This September, slightly more than 1.7 million passengers made their way through McCarran International Airport, according to recently released figures. That compares to more than 4.3 million in September 2019, a decline of 60.6 percent.

Confronted with this, Southern Nevada casinos are exploring an adults-only concept and other strategies to bring in patrons.

On Wednesday, Circa Resort holds its grand opening on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas as an adults-only property. This is the first hotel-casino built downtown from the ground up in 40 years. No one under age 21 will be allowed on the main property.

One day later, on Thursday, the Cromwell hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip reopens, with a shift in its business model to an adults-only concept.

Like all Nevada casinos, the Cromwell closed at the onset of the coronavirus in March. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), who had ordered the shutdown, allowed casinos to reopen June 4. Some reopened more quickly than others. The Cromwell is the last resort on the Strip to begin operating again.

In late September, Park MGM reopened as the Strip’s first smoke-free resort. NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury hotel on Park MGM’s upper floors, also is smoke-free. The Cosmopolitan hotel-casino has banned smoking in some non-gaming public spaces. It also is on the Strip.

New Concepts

A University of Nevada, Las Vegas faculty member said this effort to target niche markets is not a surprise.

Given the dire outlook of our city’s convention business (and) travel for the foreseeable future, it is not surprising for casino-resorts to shift focus on target markets and try to establish a sustainable business model,” Mehmet Erdem told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is an associate professor in UNLV’s College of Hospitality.

Gaming historian David G. Schwartz told that others are watching to see if the adults-only concept works. He said the 21-and-over strategy probably is more effective for smaller hotels than megaresorts. Some properties in Las Vegas have 5,000 or more hotel rooms. Circa has 777 rooms. The Cromwell is a boutique hotel-casino with 188 rooms.

Lower Demand at Encore

The slump in tourism has prompted one major resort on the Las Vegas Strip to cut back on the days it will remain open. The Encore hotel-casino is only open from Thursdays at 2 pm until Mondays at noon.

Wynn Resorts, which owns Encore and Wynn Las Vegas, said the new hours were put in place “to match the consistent, lower consumer demand we are experiencing.”

The resort will resume its normal operating hours when consumer demand increases. Encore and Wynn Las Vegas are side-by-side on the Strip, located where the Desert Inn hotel-casino once stood. Wynn Las Vegas has not changed its operating hours.

In a move to build public confidence, local law enforcement agencies have joined forces to quell a recent surge in violence on the Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department calls this effort Operation Persistent Pressure. The Nevada Highway Patrol is assisting in the program.