COVID-19 outbreak could cost Nevada tourism $39 billion

22 March 2020

Using some daunting figures and statistics, the Nevada Resort Association made a plea to the state’s congressional delegation on Friday, asking Congress to consider providing "immediate economic relief and recovery to the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy."

The request comes after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Governor Steve Sisolak to order an unprecedented shutdown of nonessential businesses, including casinos, for 30 days.

In a letter signed by President Virginia Valentine, the association warned that if the Nevada tourism industry is shut down for 30 to 90 days, the recovery will require between 12 and 18 months and the impacts would be “devastating” for the state’s economy, putting at risk nearly 160,000 jobs, $7.7 billion in wages and salaries, $39 billion in total economic output and more than $1 billion in lost tax revenue.

“No other state in America depends on travel and tourism at the magnitude Nevada does,” Valentine wrote in the letter that was sent to Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jackie Rosen, D-Nev., and Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee, Steven Horsford, D-Nev., and Mark Amodei, R-Nev. “Nevada depends more on tourism than Alaska does on oil; Wyoming does on coal mining; or, New York City does on the financial sector. Las Vegas, the state’s largest economic center, is more dependent on tourism than Detroit is on auto manufacturing; Seattle is on aerospace; or, Nashville is on music and entertainment.

“Each year, we welcome nearly 57 million visitors from around the world. As the state’s No. 1 industry, we are the largest employer, the largest taxpayer and the economic foundation the state thrives upon.”

At the request of the association, an economic research and analysis firm assessed the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nevada and determined that 320,000 employees relying on $1.3 billion in wages and salary payments each month are at immediate risk.

“These numbers are nearly twice those reported during the Great Recession,” Valentine wrote. “The near-term impacts of COVID-19 are devastating, not only for the industry, but the state as a whole.”

She added that “this condition is not sustainable; and, should those efforts subside, Nevada could quickly see its unemployment rate increase above 30 percent.”

Valentine concluded the letter by adding that “this is an unprecedented economic situation that will have catastrophic financial ramifications for individuals, families, businesses and state and local budgets across the state.”

“With each passing day Nevada’s tourism-based economy is shuttered, the more difficult it is for Nevada to recover and for the state’s largest employers to continue assisting their workers during these uncertain times.

“As you can see, unequivocally, Nevada is being hit hardest by the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, and we respectfully urge Congress to consider providing immediate economic relief and recovery to the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy – the hospitality, tourism and meeting and convention industry and its vast workforce – for the security of Nevada families today and for the future.”


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