Las Vegas Christmas Likely Low-Key, Travelers Urged to Follow COVID-19 Precautions

Posted on: December 24, 2020, 08:19h. 

Last updated on: December 24, 2020, 11:57h.

Travelers heading to Las Vegas this Christmas week will likely find a quieter destination this year because of the spike in coronavirus cases.

Most US travelers will drive to destinations this Christmas
A Las Vegas Santa Claus waves hello in November. The number of visitors to Las Vegas is expected to be lower this Christmas. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Several hotels continue to shutter their rooms during the middle of the week, and state-imposed caps restrict the number of players allowed on gaming floors. Most entertainment has been suspended.

Last month, Nevada imposed a statewide 25 percent occupancy limit on gaming floors, bars, and restaurants. It will remain in place until at least Jan. 15.

The Las Vegas destination remains open for visitors who can and want to travel, and we encourage everyone who makes plans to visit to respect and follow our current state guidelines of wearing a mask, socially-distancing, and if you’re not feeling well or experiencing COVID symptoms, not to travel,” said Lori Nelson-Kraft, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), to

Joseph Rajchel, a spokesman for McCarran International Airport, further told he is advising all travelers “to make sure they do their research when choosing to travel this holiday season.

“It is crucial for travelers to educate themselves about the different rules and regulations of the airports, cities, and states that are part of their trip,” Rajchel said. “Each traveler should be aware of the latest advisories, mask mandates, testing requirements, and quarantine orders that apply at each point of their journey.”

If they are at McCarran, masks are required at all times. Airport shuttles, elevators, and trams will have longer wait times because of guidelines, Rajchel said. Some concessions will have limited holiday hours, too, so travelers may want to plan ahead.

Though specific projections on the number of travelers heading to Las Vegas this Christmas are not available, recent travel volume suggests lower numbers will continue.

For instance, about 1.9 million tourists visited Las Vegas in October. That was higher than the number seen in September. But it was about half of the 3.7 million who visited during October 2019.

The lower numbers are linked to the pandemic. That is true for tourists and business travelers. The number of foreign travelers to Las Vegas for the winter holidays is likely to be lower, too.

But Nevada AAA spokesman Sergio Avila told that Las Vegas “has been one of the most popular destinations when it comes to AAA hotel booking data. We expect travelers to continue to visit Las Vegas through the end of the year albeit not at the same volume.”

Americans Still Travel for Christmas

Nationally, up to 84.5 million Americans may choose to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, according to projections from the AAA.

That represents 34 million fewer US travelers than the number leaving home during 2019’s winter holidays.

Most who do travel in the US for the holidays will go by car. As many as 81 million Americans will travel by auto to get away from home for Christmas, the AAA said. That is a drop of 25 percent or more compared to 2019.

But others will fly. Up to 2.9 million Americans will board a plane for the winter holidays. That is a sharp decline of about 60 percent when compared to last year, the AAA said.

The year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year,” said a statement from Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.”

National, state, and local officials have warned Americans not to travel because of the pandemic. They also admonish those that do travel could develop or pass on COVID-19.

Travelers should take a COVID-19 test one to three days before travel and another one three to five days after travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Las Vegas Metro Police Will Be On Patrol

As far as Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) tells visitors and locals alike expect to see more officers on The Strip and in some other areas between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

LVMPD has been conducting extra patrols as part of the holiday initiative since Thanksgiving,” a Metro spokesperson told about “Operation Persistent Pressure,” which is a selective enforcement operation to reduce crime.

“We ask any visitors to party responsibly, and if they see something, say something,” the spokesperson added. “If you see an officer as you visit our city, it does not mean there is something wrong, they may be there as part of crime prevention.”

As far as New Year’s Eve public celebrations, “We have reduced the footprint of the event, and therefore have reduced the amount of officers needed,” the spokesman continued.

There will be no New Year’s Eve fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip this year. In downtown Las Vegas, the Plaza Hotel and Casino plans to put on a fireworks show. Las Vegas room rates for New Year’s Eve are expected to be pricier.

Those who have online access can view a virtual Las Vegas New Year’s Eve event. It can be seen on A DJ will perform and a fireworks show is planned.