LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — President Joe Biden’s order has lifted severe travel restrictions for some countries overseas. This announcement is music to many struggling business owners’ ears in the valley.
Donald Lemperle is the owner of Vegenation that is located downtown. His restaurant has been open for seven years and before the pandemic he was hitting record-high numbers. A good amount of his profit was coming in from international travelers. The pandemic brought that foot traffic to a drastic stop.
“In the restaurant, business margins are really quite tight, so any extra business really helps us out,” Lemperle explained.
He says that when he heard the president’s announcement, he had a sigh of relief. Millions of international travelers could now visit the United States.
Lemperle says he has been close to reaching rock bottom, during the peak of this pandemic his profits were cut in half, but with an influx of international travelers expected to arrive soon his restaurant is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It can change a lot because we might get another 25, 30% extra business which helps us tremendously on the bottom line,” said Lemperle.
Chris Jones, the Department of Aviation chief marketing officer, says the Las Vegas International Airport served 3.8 million international travelers. This year we have only seen just a bit over 400,000 and Jones says the majority of that is from Mexico and Canada. He says welcoming these travelers back will be crucial for our local businesses.
“They tend to spend more money; they tend to stay longer and those are all important things for all of us that live here because that is dollars coming into our economy that has been missing,” Jones said.
Jones says the contribution of international travelers is a key core market. With the return of large conventions like CES mixed with an influx of travelers, he says Las Vegas can see a boom in our economy.
And this is something Lemperle says he is in desperate need of.
“Before the pandemic, we were going 7 days a week, full steam ahead, and then when the pandemic hit everything slowed down quite a bit, we had to play catch-up,” Lemperle said.
Jones says we can begin to expect about 500 to 1,000 of these passengers coming into the valley daily. While they will start trickling in at first, he hopes we can exceed the 3.8 million that we received back in 2019 for 2022.