As more and more Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, states and cities are easing restrictions. And now, Las Vegas is joining their ranks.
Beginning June 1, the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding area will reopen fully to vaccinated visitors. That means those looking to dine in area restaurants or dance in the city's night clubs will have full access to those amenities, and capacity limits will not apply.
This move comes after the CDC's announcement that fully vaccinated individuals can ditch their masks, not just outdoors, but in indoor settings as well. Most Las Vegas casinos were already open at full capacity before this announcement, but this shift opens up tourism even more.
Local businesses stand to benefit
The coronavirus pandemic has hammered hotels, restaurants, and small businesses that rely heavily on tourists -- including Las Vegas. Casinos took a notable hit last year, in fact.
On a whole, revenue for Nevada's gaming industry dropped to $18.3 billion in 2020, down 25.2% from $24.5 billion in 2019. Furthermore, in April 2020, only 2.4% of available rooms were filled at casinos, a glaring decline from April 2019, when 87.2% of rooms were booked.
Casino earnings from food and beverage sales also fell. Across Nevada, revenue from food sales was down 25.8% in 2020 year over year, and revenue from beverage sales was down 28.7%.
Now that Las Vegas is opening up in full to those who are vaccinated, hotel occupancy rates could really pick up, both on the strip and around it. Food and beverage sales are likely to soar as well, especially if dining establishments can welcome guests at full capacity. And the more people who are motivated to travel to Las Vegas, the more foot traffic local businesses will enjoy.
Will other tourist areas follow suit?
Clearly, there's much to be gained by Las Vegas opening up fully, and in the coming weeks or months, there's a good chance more tourist hubs will follow suit. New York City, for example, has already announced that it will be reopening fully in July. And other popular cities and destinations that are known to attract visitors are apt to take a similar plunge if they haven't already, especially given the blow the pandemic has dealt to the hospitality industry in particular.
Of course, within popular cities, individual establishments can still require customers to wear masks, and that's a decision local businesses will need to assess. On one hand, mandating masks could help drive revenue by making customers more comfortable with the idea of being indoors in a public setting. On the other hand, mask requirements could be a turnoff to those who have loathed the idea of putting one on from the start.
The Millionacres bottom line
All told, this news out of Las Vegas should be taken as a sign that things are moving in the right direction as far as the pandemic goes. And if travel really picks up during the latter part of 2021, it could help hotels, restaurants, and other hard-hit businesses (and their investors) recover from the events of the past 14 months.