When measured by “Busiest US airports by total passenger boardings”, Las Vegas or McCarran International Airport, is the 9th busiest airport in the United States. Per Statista (Jan 31, 2020) There were 42.52 million visitors to Las Vegas in 2019. In January 2019, a survey found that Las Vegas was the second most popular destination U.S. travelers would like to visit in the next year, after New York. Only two months ago Las Vegas celebrated “The Year of the Rat”, the Lunar Chinese New Year, welcoming tens of thousands of Chinese travelers and over 20,000 visitors per day to the Bellagio alone. It goes without saying that Las Vegas is a tremendous tourist destination, one of the busiest travel locations in the world.
Ranked as one of the top places in the U.S. to celebrate a Chinese New Year, Las Vegas delivers events with amazing live entertainment, martial arts demonstrations, acrobatics, folk dancing, and traditional dragon dances. China represents the fifth-largest market for international visitation to Las Vegas, with 236,970 travelers to the destination in 2018, according to the LVCVA. Over the last ten years, Las Vegas has courted travelers from all over the world, growing its offerings for Chinese travelers. Keeping in mind massive resort properties such as Resort World, a Chinese themed resort hotel at the North end of the Las Vegas Strip, are planned to open this year. A boom for Las Vegas and possibly a harbinger of doom.
At the time of writing, China has a total of 80,921 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and at least 3,046 dead. Yet, Las Vegas, barely 60 days past celebrating Chinese New Year and the 9th busiest airport in America, states only seven cases of the Coronavirus. Experts have warned, however, that the number of people infected with the virus could be far higher than reported due to the complicated testing required, a shortage of medical supplies at some hospitals, and recent observations that many people have mild cases that don’t require medical treatment. The situation in China is improving but dire and, since the start of the New Year, Chinese travelers were in great numbers in the Greater Las Vegas Area.
Seven days ago, Fox 5 Las Vegas reported 14 negative Coronavirus tests and 208 people being monitored. With the sheer number of citizens (an estimated 641,676 people) and the high volume of travel from China, a mere seven confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Las Vegas seem implausible. Furthermore, the behavior of the larger resort operators says otherwise. Yesterday MGM Resorts announced the company would temporarily close buffets at restaurants in several of its locations across Las Vegas, including the MGM Grand, amid the coronavirus outbreak. The buffet at seven locations, including the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Aria, Bellagio, Mirage, Luxor, and Excalibur, would all be shuttered as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. While MGM was shuttering buffets, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivered her State of the City address and said the Coronavirus is “absolutely destroying us”. She also said this is no time “for us to be wimps.” Perhaps Mayor Goodman cued us in with her “destruction” comment. Vegas is a single-industry tourist city and, without travel and tourism, is certain to struggle. Not unlike the difficulties experienced by other single-industry cities the likes of Detroit and the auto industry.
Would it be too hard to believe the numbers in Las Vegas are not representative of the truth? Could it be the testing is inadequate? Could there simply not be enough test? Or are the tests limited to reduce the number of cases revealed to the public? Speaking to numerous Las Vegas residents they consistently echoed the number of reported Coronavirus cases “can’t be right” or “must be higher”, but how long will the City of Las Vegas bluff? Yes, the town was built on gambling, however, it’s time Las Vegas showed its cards.
Mazareanu, E. (2019, December 6). Busiest U.S. airports – number of passengers 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/185679/passengers-boarded-at-the-leading-25-us-airports/
Chinese New Year in the Desert 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://travelnevada.com/events/27221/las-vegas-celebrate-chinese-new-year
DeSilva, K. (2020, March 4). Nevada reports 14 negative coronavirus tests; 208 people under monitoring. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.fox5vegas.com/coronavirus/nevada-reports-negative-coronavirus-tests-people-under-monitoring/article_754e2428-5e7d-11ea-b7e3-b3b8999a5f6a.html
Olvera, K. (2020, March 10). MGM Resorts will temporarily close buffets amid coronavirus concerns. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.8newsnow.com/news/local-news/mgm-resorts-to-temporarily-close-buffets-amid-coronavirus-concerns/
Horwath, B. (2020, March 10). Las Vegas mayor says media’s coronavirus coverage is ‘destroying us’. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://lasvegassun.com/news/2020/mar/10/las-vegas-mayor-says-medias-coronavirus-coverage-i/