Pandemic forces Las Vegas hospitality industry to make major adjustments

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — COVID-19 continues to impact the economy, forcing Las Vegas’ hospitality industry to make some major adjustments.

MGM Resorts International announced hotel tower operations will stop at the Mirage and Mandalay Bay during the week, Monday through Thursday, starting Nov. 30. The company says the decision is due to underwhelming occupancy rates amid the pandemic.

“It’s not surprising,” said hospitality expert and UNLV gaming historian David Schwartz. “The key here is that it’s just the hotels that are closing.”

He says the good news is both resorts will continue to operate their casinos and restaurants. That is what Park MGM is already doing, after the property announced its midweek hotel closure earlier this month.

“The other amenities are going to stay open, and MGM has many hotels on the Strip, so they could redirect those people to other hotels,” Schwartz said.

MGM Resorts International says they do not expect the closures to last too long. Director of Media Relations Brian Ahern sent the following statement to 8 News Now:

“We are constantly evaluating occupancy levels and adjusting operations accordingly. With occupancy remaining low during the weekdays, we have decided to temporarily close hotel tower operations at Mandalay Bay and The Mirage Monday – Thursday, effective Nov. 30. Casinos, restaurants and other amenities remain open at properties throughout the week. While we do not currently expect the mid-week hotel closures to remain past December, we will continue evaluating business levels to determine how long they are in effect.”

But Schwartz says demand will depend on how the pandemic plays out.

“If the vaccines are rolled out and are effective, I think that’s going to be a big boom for travel,” he said.

Many properties are still offering lower room rates. So, even with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spiking in Nevada and Clark County, business experts say price point is key for a large chunk of visitors.

“I think that people will continue to come,” said Christina Lorusso, owner of Lorusso Forensics. “The level of supply and demand is based on the amount that the consumer is willing to pay.”

When the Las Vegas economy will recover is uncertain, but Schwartz says one thing is clear:

“The city and the people of the city, more importantly, have always bounced back.”

Last month, the Wynn and Encore announced a shut down of all operations during weekdays, also due to low demand in the wake of the pandemic. Experts say if no significant progress is made in combatting the coronavirus soon, more resorts could follow suit.

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