Las Vegas Benefiting From United States Borders Reopening to Leisure Travelers

Posted on: October 13, 2021, 08:37h. 

Last updated on: October 13, 2021, 01:38h.

Las Vegas casinos are on a winning streak, as the country’s most critical gaming market continues to slowly emerge from the darkest days of the pandemic. More business is soon expected, as the United States welcomes back leisure foreigners from Mexico and Canada.

Las Vegas US border travel
Vehicles attempting to travel into Canada wait in line at the US-Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., last year. The United States is planning to soon allow COVID-19 vaccinated Canadians to travel into the country. (Image: Reuters)

The US closed its northern and southern borders to nonessential travelers on March 21, 2020. More than a year and a half later, the entries are set to reopen in early November to all foreigners, so long as they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Last month, the US announced the lifting of country-based travel bans based on each nation’s current COVID-19 situation. With the US allowing automobile traffic from Mexico and Canada beginning early next month, international visitor traffic to Las Vegas should further improve.

In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” explained Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mexico and Canada have been calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to unlock the borders. The two countries represent the lion’s share of annual international travel to Las Vegas.

In 2019, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) said Canadians accounted for 26.2 percent of all international visitation. Mexicans represented 19.8 percent of the foreign travel.

Las Vegas Economic Restart

Las Vegas relies on tourism more than any other major city in the US. The town’s more than 145,000 hotel rooms typically stay occupied through the week, with conventions and other major events hosting their gatherings in Southern Nevada.

The pandemic naturally ceased all large meetings and exhibitions. Hotel occupancy rates in Las Vegas for 2020 were just 45 percent on the weekends, and 25 percent through the week.

Pent-up demand domestically and the easing of arriving international flights have already jump-started the casino state’s comeback. Nevada casinos have cleared $1 billion in gross gaming revenue in each of the past six months.

With the northern and southern border gates soon opening to casual travelers, Las Vegas is seemingly primed for continued recovery.

“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” Mayorkas added.

Big Spenders

The LVCVA reported in 2019 that 14 percent of all visitors came from foreign countries. That was down six percent from 2018.

Of those 2019 international travelers, 62 percent came to Las Vegas primarily for vacation or pleasure.

The average foreign visitor spent $369 on food and drink, more than $200 on retail shopping, and about $60 on shows and entertainment. Those expenditures are all considerably higher than the average spending of domestic visitors.

And while only 28 percent of foreign travelers say they planned to gamble prior to arriving in Las Vegas, nearly three in four reported gambling at some point during their stay.