Nevada’s tourism industry had reason for optimism through the spring as the industry experienced the best three-month performance since the COVID-19 pandemic crippled it in early 2020. With vaccination rates approaching 50 percent nationally and capacity restrictions ending across much of the country, Americans displayed a greater willingness to travel and vacation after living more than a year under the cloud of the pandemic and related response.

The willingness to travel was apparent in visitation to Southern Nevada, which continued its recovery path in May to reach 2.9 million visitors. While that figure lagged May 2019 levels by 22.0 percent, it was the highest monthly total since before the pandemic began and was nearly twice as high as the 1.6 million visitors in February 2021. Visitation in Northern Nevada also reached a recent peak in May with 332,700 visitors, just 8.6 percent off the May 2019 total.

Air travel has played a key role in the tourism recovery trend. According to Transportation Security Administration data, 56.7 million travelers moved through U.S. airport security checkpoints in June 2021 – an average of 1.9 million a day. While these levels remained 26.0 percent lower than prepandemic levels, they were nearly four times higher than the 14.8 million reported in June 2020. If current trends persist, that difference will continue to grow as consumer confidence improves and Americans continue to get back aboard planes. In fact, preliminary data from the first two weeks of July 2021 showed an additional 114,000 people per day moved through TSA checkpoints than in June 2021. The growth trend in air travel across the nation was apparent at Nevada’s two primary airports.

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