When tourists are prepared to travel again, Las Vegas will be ready

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The first signs of widespread tourist demand returning for Las Vegas aren’t quite visible, but several experts who track visitation trends say they’re ready to bubble up this year.

The coronavirus pandemic might have crippled visitation to Las Vegas, but the end could be relatively near as vaccine distribution begins ramping up.

“There’s clearly enthusiasm for what a successfully implemented vaccine rollout could do for the Strip,” said Barry Jonas, a gaming industry analyst for investment firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “The question is when people will get comfortable.”

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), called vaccine distribution “the key” for Las Vegas to get humming again. The theory is that people worldwide will be ready to let loose once it’s free to go out from the safety of their quarantine, and Las Vegas is the perfect place to celebrate.

Hill is optimistic about this year, though he cautioned that shows and conventions are likely to initially have a “smaller footprint” when they return.

“Once we get into May and June, I think the city will feel close to what it normally is,” Hill said. “Room rates may not be quite as high, but it will be different. [In] the second half of 2021, we’ll see strong recovery.”

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