LV to restore pre-pandemic tourism business in 2023, analyst predicts

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(Photo: Ronda Churchill for McCarran International Airport)
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(Photo: Ronda Churchill for McCarran International Airport)

Las Vegas will not only regain hospitality jobs lost to the pandemic, but will add more, says a new forecast from Moody’s Analytics that surveyed 69 tourism destinations. But it won’t happen overnight.  

The Southern Nevada tourism market suffered the largest drop of any metro area in the Moody’s report in a key metric for the hospitality industry — revenue per available room (REVpar) — down 55 percent from 2019 to 2020.  Employment in leisure and hospitality tumbled 20 percent in Las Vegas.  

Moody’s forecasts REVpar will exceed 2019 levels in Las Vegas in 2023. Local employment in leisure and hospitality is expected to grow by 29 percent from 2020 to 2025, a net gain of 9 percent from pre-pandemic levels.

Between 2014 and 2019, REVpar grew 63 percent in Las Vegas, the highest rate of the metro areas studied by Moody’s. Local employment in leisure and hospitality grew by six percent in the same time span. 

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reports REVpar was $50.60 in September, down 58.2 percent from $121 in 2019.  Average daily room rates were down 21 percent for the same period.    

With some hotels still closed because of the pandemic, Southern Nevada’s room inventory is down 10.7 percent, from 149,050 in September 2019 to 133,079 this year, according to the LVCVA. 

Moody’s reports beach destinations on the east coast “suffered less of a decline in the second quarter than the country overall.”

“Those that suffered the most in the second quarter were destination metros including Las Vegas and Orlando along with denser, northern urban markets and others less recognized for tourism,” says Moody’s. “Most of these improved in the third quarter in line with the U.S. average.” 

“The hotel forecasts show that the pace of recovery for all metros varies depending on how their economy performs going forward: those more reliant on business travel will see slower recovery in the short run, while those with outdoor amenities in
dense parts of the U.S. will see a faster recovery,” the report says.

Las Vegas derives its weekday business primarily from business travel.

Travel and tourism in America last year topped $1 trillion, with leisure travel making up 70 percent and business travel accounting for about 30 percent, according to the U.S. Tourism Association.

Dana Gentry
Senior Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.