LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the first time in 21 months, millions of fully vaccinated international tourists will be allowed to visit the United States starting on Nov. 8, and Las Vegas will be one of their top travel destinations.
For months, local experts have said Las Vegas' tourism numbers are strong but they're not quite back to where they were pre-pandemic. The lack of international tourists is a big reason why.
In 2019, Las Vegas welcomed about 5.7 million international travelers, bringing an economic impact of $4.8 billion for the city, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Each of the past two years, Las Vegas has lost out on nearly all of that money because of COVID-19 related travel bans.
A lot of local industries depend on those travelers, from hotels to casinos to conventions, but perhaps none more so than the wedding industry.
Before the pandemic, international weddings accounted for about 90% of Joni Moss-Graham's wedding planning business, "LV Wedding Connection." She says she's happy to start getting some of that business back, especially since there are about 30 international couples who did not cancel their plans with her and have been waiting for the borders to reopen so they can have their wedding in Las Vegas.
"Now, with the news today, we're really excited," she said. "And I'm even more excited to tell you that even before the news came out today, on Monday of this week I got my first booking from France for November already, and another one coming on board for Dec. 27. So, they're ready. They want to come."
"I'm excited," added Moss-Graham. "I really love the international travelers because they love being here, they're honored to come to the United States, and of course Vegas. And thirdly, 'we're getting married.'"
She says her biggest concern now is making sure all the businesses she works with, such as catering, transportation, decorations and more, have enough staff to service all the couples who want to get married in the marriage capital of the world.
LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill sent 13 Action News a statement that reads:
"Today marks an important turning point in the recovery of international visitation essential to Las Vegas’ tourism industry. This milestone is also significant and welcome news for many of our major tradeshows and conventions that draw exhibitors and attendees from around the world. We appreciate the federal administration working alongside the travel industry to advocate for a safe reopening of international travel beginning on November 8. We are excited to welcome back our sorely missed international visitors."