LAS VEGAS — Is Las Vegas finally back? There’s a new sense of optimism on The Strip, as tourists shed their masks and step into casinos where they no longer have to social distance and cover faces. But is Las Vegas the destination where people are looking to escape again? The powers that be in Nevada’s tourism industry believe so. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released a new ad this week pitching the glittering gambling and entertainment mecca as the place cooped up travelers are looking to go to enjoy freedom after 14 months of isolation. The Reno Gazette Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, talked with insider Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of R&R Partners – the company behind “What happens here, stays here” tasked with getting people back to Las Vegas – and asked him what’s next for this town. The interview has been edited for length and c Is Vegas back? People are really, really, really starting to look at travel. There is a sense of “I gotta get away” settling in. We know from our research, that’s what tourists are looking for. They’re looking to escape. They need to escape, and they need to think about, dream about, hope for something that is life again and living again in full color with full sound and changing and wearing fun outfits and doing things they haven’t been able to do. I think Las Vegas offers it right up to them.
Where do we go from here?
As we continue to get more comfortable with this horrible virus that’s around us –– especially the people that are vaccinated –– there will be a sense of liberation that is pretty special. One thing to not underestimate is how one’s environment effects one’s intent to travel and how much fun they can have.
What do you mean by that?
Kids going back to school is normal. Fans back to a baseball park in their hometown is normal. When LA’s numbers go down or Chicago’s numbers go down and their rules begin to ease, the people who live there savor the idea of going to Las Vegas even more. Their comfort level is increasing and their idea of some sense of normalcy begins to reset. The decision to come to Vegas isn’t as complicated and difficult as it was last December, when you had to rationalize a lot. There was a lot of thinking and rationalization that went into the decision. Now I think it’s ‘Let’s go.”
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network.