Las Vegas Hotel Occupancy Declines, As Signs Point to Recovery

Posted on: March 26, 2021, 03:27h. 

Last updated on: March 26, 2021, 04:06h.

The occupancy rate at Las Vegas hotel-casinos fell sharply in February compared to the same month last year. But the rate is up from one month ago.

Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa
Visitors to the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa west of downtown Las Vegas bump elbows at a gaming table. Tourism officials are hopeful that visitor volume will pick up at area hotel-casinos. (Image: Travel + Leisure)

Hotel occupancy in the area averaged 42 percent in February, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. This is 44.8 percentage points below the February 2020 rate of 86.8 percent. That high number occurred one month before the first COVID-19 cases surfaced in Nevada.

Since the start of this year, however, the occupancy rate has gone up 10.4 percentage points from January to February, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Overall, one factor contributing to a year-long decline has been the absence of conventions. Conventions are seen as vital in filling up Las Vegas hotel rooms, especially during the slow middle of the week. The midweek occupancy this year in February was 32.1 percent, but 62.8 percent on the weekends.

Since 1999, Las Vegas casinos have made more money from conventions, and from hotels, food, and entertainment, than from gaming, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This year in February, there were no convention visitors in the city, according to the LVCVA. In February 2020, conventions attracted 760,300 visitors. 

With the World of Concrete convention scheduled for this summer in Las Vegas, tourism officials have expressed hope that this could signal a gradual rebound in the visitor volume.

Vaccine Rollout Gives Hope 

Las Vegas tourism officials say a nationwide vaccine rollout could ease travel fears and help pull the city out of its tourism slump. In addition, state COVID-19 guidelines now allow 50 percent capacity on gaming floors, up from 35 percent. 

Some in the Las Vegas travel industry believe these developments could lead to an increase in the visitor volume. In February 2020, more than 3.3 million visitors made their way to Las Vegas. This year in February, the visitor volume was about 1.5 million, or a decline of 53.8 percent. However, the February 2021 visitor volume was up almost 19 percent from one month earlier.  

Kevin Bagger of the LVCVA told the newspaper these signs are encouraging.

“Although less than half of prior-year levels, Februarys visitor tally of approximately 1.54 million visitors reflected a welcome month-over-month increase of 18.9 percent over January 2021, as the vaccine rollout and continued protocols helped control the COVID spikes that emerged in December and January,” Bagger said.

Hotel room rates that went up this month in Las Vegas have remained at a higher rate for two straight weekends.

Low Airport Passenger Totals 

The average daily increase in automobile traffic was up in February compared to the same month one year ago.

An average of 108,196 vehicles arrived each day in February 2021, up 1.4 percent from February 2020. These figures do not indicate which vehicles are local and which are from out of town.

While vehicle traffic was up slightly, airline travel has remained low.

Since the pandemic began, arrivals and departures at McCarran International Airport have declined by about 30 million passengers. This is seen a contributing to a decline in Clark County gaming revenue from $897.5 million in February 2020 to $631.5 million last month.