LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The day Las Vegas came to a standstill, Mar. 17, 2020, is still burned into the minds of many. Exactly one year later, several conventions and trade shows have announced dates of return to Las Vegas and Gov. Steve Sisolak addressed Nevada with a new timeline for when the general public can expect access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
It was the day the famous Las Vegas Strip went dark.
Iconic places usually filled with activity and tourists were closed and some hotels were even boarded up.
Overnight, the visitors vanished like a Las Vegas magic trick and the lucrative convention business evaporated.
So did the jobs that support the economic machine.
"The unthinkable happened on that day from an economic perspective," explained Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst at Applied Analysis in Las Vegas.
Aguero says no where was hit harder than Las Vegas with an unemployment rate that shot up to 30% - a number never reached by any metropolitan area in recorded American history.
In the months that followed, bikes replaced the usual heavy car traffic on the Las Vegas Strip.
But slowly, restrictions allowed most businesses to reopen but at much lower capacities.
Unemployment is still high in Nevada, even as the pandemics grip on the economy has faded.
"Initial unemployment claims were double, triple, quadruple more than anything we've ever seen and it happened overnight," said Aguero.
There is hope that normalcy is beginning to return.
As of March 15, large events can be held in Nevada if given prior approval by state and local health officials.
On Wednesday, the mega convention World of Concrete was given the green light to return to Las Vegas in June.
"Not only is this a big day for Las Vegas to be welcoming its first major citywide show back but it's also the first major show in the country," said Lori Nelson-Kraft, senior vice president of communications for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors authority.
#BREAKING I just interviewed Lori Nelson-Kraft, VP at @LVCVA about the major developments regarding #WorldOfConcrete convention returning in June, 10 more conventions set for later this year.— Joe Bartels (@Joe_Bartels) March 17, 2021
She says this is a sign Las Vegas is BACK in a big way. More shows come back in 2022. pic.twitter.com/vU9xqNb3nw
Ten additional trade shows and conventions were announced on Wednesday that they will return to Las Vegas later this year.
"That opens the door to let all the conventions know that business is once again open in Las Vegas," added Nelson-Kraft.
Economic experts predict Las Vegas may not fully recover for at least 18 months.
"By what measure would we know that Las Vegas is back?" asked Reporter Joe Bartels.
"I think it's going to be difficult, I think it's going to be back for some people and not back brothers," said Aguero.
"Most fundamentally, we want to see the jobs come back we want to see that unemployment rate below 6 percent," explained Aguero.
Key factors Aguero says that would show signs of the economic come back include:
1.) Unemployment rate below 6%
2.) Occupancy rates for hotels
3.) Average daily room rates for hotel rooms
4.) Convention visitor traffic
5.) Concerts, special events return
6.) Stabilizing the housing market
Entertainment and shows are also making a return, several have already returned or have announced dates of planned shows.