A new report released Friday by the Nevada Resort Association showed that the state’s tourism industry has rebounded very well from the COVID-19 pandemic, although some facets of the sector have yet to recover fully.
The trade group released its biennial fact book, which indicated travel and tourism produced a $90.7 billion economic impact in 2022. That’s up from the $73.2 billion impact the industry generated in 2019, the last full year before the health emergency that shut down the sector nationally for months in 2020 and gradually returned to normal over the last couple of years.
That economic impact equals 43% of The Silver State’s gross domestic product.
“Our report demonstrates in detail how the gaming and tourism industry drives our state’s economy and is foundational to Nevada’s quality of life,” said Ellen Whittemore, chair of the Nevada Resort Association Board of Directors. “As the state’s largest employment generator (and) biggest taxpayer… a strong resort industry lifts other businesses, creates more jobs, assists community organizations and is fundamental in ensuring our state thrives.”
The industry’s impact, according to the association, helps even those who aren’t part of it. For example, the tax revenues generated annually by tourists reduce personal tax burdens by about $2,700 per household.
While casinos serve as the cornerstone of Nevada’s tourism industry, the association changed the name of the report – previously known as the Nevada Gaming Fact Book – to 2023 The Facts. The report notes that resorts are becoming less dependent on gaming than they were a decade ago.
Although gaming revenues trended north in 2022, the industry itself continues to diversify, offering a wider range of amenities and experiences for consumers,” the report stated.
The $14.6 billion in gross gaming revenue generated by the state’s largest non-restricted casino licensees in the 2022 fiscal year is an all-time high, topping the previous record set in 2007. However, that accounted for roughly 40% of total revenues. In 2021, gaming revenues accounted for more than half the total.
Recovery Not Yet Complete
Gaming revenues may be up, but the report indicated a couple of key metrics still lag.
Nevada attracted 48.9 million visitors in the 2022 fiscal year. That was a 47.2% jump from the 33.2 million from the previous fiscal year, which was impacted by COVID restrictions. But that’s still 13.5% off from the all-time high of 56.5 million tourists in 2017.
Convention traffic shot up by more than 700% from less than 550,000 in 2021 – when several major shows, like the Global Gaming Expo, were canceled – to 4.5 million last year. However, that’s still down 39.3% from the 7.4 million conventioneers who visited in 2007.
Employment, too, has not fully rebounded either. Overall, the leisure and hospitality sector employed 333,100 workers in fiscal year 2022, but that’s still down from the roughly 360,000 workers in 2019.
Still, the sector remains the state’s largest job producer, accounting for 22.6% of Nevada’s overall employment pool.
Casino jobs accounted for 141,300 of those jobs. That’s up from the 87,700 reported in fiscal year 2020.But even before the pandemic, the number of casino jobs had been declining gradually since 2014.
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