‘Everybody needs Vegas’: Overseas visitors return after restrictions lifted

Published on : Wednesday, November 10, 2021

As international commercial flights steadily return to Las Vegas, Monday represented a milestone as the first transoceanic flight in nearly 20 months arrived at McCarran.

Las Vegas previously welcomed back flights from Canada and Mexico. But Monday’s Virgin Atlantic Airways flight with about 240 passengers onboard marked the reopening of the Europe-to-Vegas gateway.

Through September, McCarran has seen just over 400,000 international travelers this year. That’s about an 85% drop from the first nine months of 2019, prior to the pandemic and before travel restrictions were instituted.

In 2019, some 740,000 tourists from the United Kingdom alone visited Las Vegas, about 13% of all international travelers here.

The first British Airways flight since the travel ban was lifted is scheduled to land at McCarran on Monday.

Next month, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Copa Airlines out of Panama will resume service to Las Vegas.

Several visitors who arrived off Virgin Atlantic Airways Flight 155 on Monday said the process to prove their vaccination status wasn’t very complicated. Travellers must provide their vaccination status, along with proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The U.S. is now able to reconnect with the global community, said, Roger Dow, President of the U.S. Travel Association in a statement.

According to the association, the 28 European countries that were barred from air travel to the U.S. made up 37% of overseas visitors in 2019.

Vassiliadis said Virgin Atlantic has seen an “over average” number of seats sold for flights to Las Vegas.

While overseas routes are just reopening, flights from Canada to Las Vegas resumed in June while flights from Mexico have been arriving since the summer of 2020.

Last week, low-cost Canadian airline Flair offered its initial flight to Las Vegas, which came from Toronto.

Garth Lund, Chief Commercial Officer for the airline, said, an additional five Canada-to-Vegas routes will be added by the end of the year.

Flair is a budget alternative to carriers like Air Canada, which brought just over 11,000 passengers to Las Vegas in September. That was down from 69,500 in September 2019, but up 127% from August.

In 2019, close to 1.5 million visitors came to Las Vegas from Canada, the most from any foreign country.

Vegas is a very popular destination for Canadians not just during the winter but all year, Lund said. Canada is an important source market for Las Vegas.

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