Impact of Trump travel ban minimal so far on Las Vegas tourism

Pedestrians are shown along the Las Vegas Strip on Christmas Day Friday, Dec. 25, 2015.

It’s a simple formula for Las Vegas: Fewer visitors to the area mean fewer gamblers and shoppers, which means fewer dollars not coming into the local economy.

It has been more than a week since President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. While the order preventing travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States is still in its infancy, Las Vegas tourism officials are hoping the travel ban is not here to stay.

“Tourism is the most crucial industry for the Southern Nevada economy, and we must protect it,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Jeremy Handel said. “The LVCVA supports efforts to ensure safe and secure travel; however, that is not mutually exclusive of being open and welcoming.”

McCarran International Airport does not offer direct flights from any of the seven banned countries and connecting flights to Las Vegas are only tracked from their final destination to McCarran, airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said.

Just over 1 percent of the Las Vegas overseas tourist market comes from the Middle East and Africa, according to data from the authority. In 2015, the last available year of data, 40,295 of 3,100,270 international visitors not from Canada or Mexico originated from the regions where countries affected by the travel ban are located.

Representatives from MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment said the travel ban hasn’t affected the number of visitors at their properties, and they weren’t certain what effect a prolonged ban would have in the future.

“We have seen no impact on our visitor volumes,” MGM spokeswoman Yvette Monet said.

ederal Judge James Robart on Feb. 2 temporarily blocked Trump’s ban by issuing a temporary restraining order at the request of the states of Washington and Minnesota. On Tuesday, a panel of three San Francisco-based federal judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the government’s appeal of Robart’s order.

A decision from the 9th Circuit Court is expected this week. If the court rules against the ban, the next stop for the executive order will likely be the Supreme Court, where a final ruling will be made.

If it’s up to the tourism authority, the ruling will be in favor of letting more people into Las Vegas.

“We will continue to aggressively market Las Vegas to the world and welcome business and leisure visitors to our destination,” Handel said.