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Vegas visits still down, tourists come by road more than air

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A sign advises people to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign amid a shutdown of casinos along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A sign advises people to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign amid a shutdown of casinos along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS >> Tourists and travelers are beginning to return to Las Vegas, but mostly by highway and well below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, according to airport and convention authority reports released Thursday.

McCarran International Airport said it handled 1.6 million arriving and departing passengers in July, down nearly two-thirds from the same month a year ago but up 56% from a million people in June.

Highway travel to Las Vegas was approaching levels of summer 2019, reaching 90% of the total a year ago, according to the regional Convention and Visitors Authority. Traffic jams are again common on Interstate 15 when weekend visitors head home to Southern California.

With conventions canceled, the region’s nearly 124,000 hotel rooms were just 42.5% full in July. Overall visitor volume was down 61%, the tourism authority said.

The airport logged a record 51.5 million passengers in 2019 and regularly handled 4 million people a month before the emergence of COVID-19. It tallied fewer than 153,000 passengers in April and 392,000 in May.

Southwest Airlines carried nearly 603,000 passengers in July and remaind the busiest air carrier at the airport, followed by Spirit Airlines, American, Allegiant and Frontier.

Sundance Helicopters permanently quit offering sightseeing tours at McCarran on Aug. 21 after 35 years, citing the steep drop in tourism due to the pandemic.

The airport reported Sundance had nearly 22,000 customers in July 2019. Last month, it had 102.

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