(CBS) — Surveys show many Americans are itching to travel. Tourism in Las Vegas plummeted in 2020, but the city is betting on life starting to return to normal this year.
Circa in downtown Las Vegas opened its hotel a few days before 2021, ushering in a wave of new offerings this year. It’s on Fremont Street with a pool amphitheater and the world’s largest sportsbook. The adults-only hotel is the first newly built downtown resort to open in four decades. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels is taking over the former Hard Rock Hotel and plans a late March debut. And then there’s Resorts World, built from the ground up and opening this summer on the Las Vegas Strip. Crockfords is one of three hotels along with a Hilton and Conrad that will be part of the $4.3 billion complex. It’s an LXR Hotel, Hilton’s newest luxury brand.
“It shows the resiliency of Las Vegas and it talks about the desire for travelers to come back to this great destination when things are back to somewhat of a normal level,” says Fletch Brunelle, Vice President of Marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Until everything is back to normal, safety precautions will remain in place. If you haven’t been to Vegas lately, that means mandatory face masks in public spaces.
Individual properties have their own measures, such as thermal scanners at The Venetian, and at MGM Hotels like Bellagio, there are plexiglass barriers at table games, contactless guest experiences, physical distancing policies and more that you can’t see.
The Head of Health and Safety Strategy at MGM International, John Flynn, says, “We’re pumping in as much outside fresh air as possible.”
MGM’s plan also includes a very unusual sight in a casino: Custom-built hand washing stations with soap and water. And signs reminding people of the importance of washing your hands during the pandemic.
Brunelle says only 19 million tourists visited the Las Vegas last year, down 55% from 2019. “Our hope for 2021 is that as we hit March, April, May, June, and frankly as we get into the third quarter, that there will be enough vaccinations as well as individuals that have recovered from the virus that we will see a good amount of herd immunity,” Brunelle says. He’s hoping soon, that will be a sure bet.
There are also two new residencies planned this year, Usher at Caesars and Donny Osmond at Harrah’s.