Las Vegas Visitor Report Shows Travelers Younger, More Diverse Than Pre-Pandemic

The “2021 Las Vegas Visitor Profile” details how COVID-19 and the pandemic changed travel behaviors throughout the US as it relates to Southern Nevada.

A busy Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas has Strip sidewalks packed with pedestrians on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Las Vegas’ annual Visitor Profile says visitors were younger last year than in prior years. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A busy Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas has Strip sidewalks packed with pedestrians on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Las Vegas’ annual Visitor Profile says visitors were younger last year than in prior years. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Commissioned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and conducted by California-based GLS Research, a marketing analysis firm, the 2021 report reveals that Las Vegas visitors were younger and more ethnically diverse than ever before.

Of the approximately 32.2 million people who traveled to Las Vegas last year, the LVCVA says 46% were under the age of 40. That’s up considerably from 2019 when just 37% of the visitors were 39 or younger.

The LVCVA did not conduct a 2020 Visitor Profile because of the pandemic closures.

Just 56% of the visitors last year were associated as “White.” That’s down more than 20% from 2019. “Blacks” and “Hispanic/Latinos” each gained 8% during the reviews, spaced two years apart.

The 32.2 million visitor tally was a nearly 70% improvement in 2020 but remains 24% below 2019 levels.

Regional Travel Dominates

Though life slowly began to return to some sense of normal in 2021, Las Vegas saw less traffic arrive from the southern and eastern parts of the US. As a result, visitors from western states increased their share of the overall visitor volume.

2021 visitors were younger and more ethnically diverse, were more likely to be visiting from the Western United States, and to be traveling with children,” the LVCVA Executive Summary recapped. “Visitors were less likely to attend shows and entertainment or to be visiting for a convention than in past years, but were more likely to visit downtown, to go to Las Vegas attractions for which they had to pay, and to go to bars and lounges.”

Western states — defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Nevada (exclusive of Clark County) — accounted for 60% of the 2021 Las Vegas visitor volume. Prior to the pandemic, those states were responsible for 47% of the traffic. Foreign travel dropped 11% to just 3%.

Since most visitors arrived from the west, trip plans weren’t made as far out as in previous years. The study found that nearly half of all visitors booked their travel arrangements between one week and one month out from their trip.

Gambling Less

Nevada is fresh off its all-time best gross gaming revenue year. The state’s casinos collectively won $13.4 billion. Pent-up demand, federal stimulus, and inflation have been cited for the unprecedented gaming win.

The LVCVA 2021 Las Vegas Visitor Profile, however, reports that fewer visitors traveled to the region specifically to gamble than before COVID-19. Only 8% of visitors said their primary reason for being in Las Vegas was to gamble — down 6% from 2019.

However, Las Vegas has long diversified the destination to offer an array of lures other than slot machines, table games, and sportsbooks. The annual rate of gambling being the driving reason to visit has fluctuated in recent years, the LVCVA’s 2016 Visitor Profile showing just 4% of visitors ventured to Southern Nevada primarily to gamble.

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