By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Las Vegas is beginning to focus on a new type of tourist — the “bleisure traveler” — Nevada’s 1st U.S. House District Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said on Nevada Newsmakers.
“There’s a new type of traveler,” Titus, whose district includes The Las Vegas Strip, told host Sam Shad. “They are people who can work from anywhere. They go to places that are really great, set up shop in a hotel room, do a little business and then they go out and have a little fun.”
Indeed, it is a growing market for both domestic and international travelers, according to travel data. It is estimated that 243 million business trips in the U.S. turn into “bleisure” trips. That’s 60 percent of all business trips, according to business traveler statistics from Strato Jet Charter, Inc.
Globally, the 60 percent holds true, although the Chinese business travelers have a leisure component of 62 percent while their German counterparts are at 65 percent.
“It is a new market we are trying to attract and so far, we are doing pretty good,” Titus said.
Business trips can sometimes turn into “bleaisure” trips spontaneously and the leisure days can almost double a business traveler’s stay, according to DANA marketing research. That study shows more than two-thirds of “bleisure” spending goes to hotels (32 percent), airfare and dining.
Statistics also show the ‘bleisure” market can be especially lucrative with international travelers and Titus welcomed the news that the Biden Administration will ease international travel restrictions next month. Under the plan, fully-vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe can again to travel to the U.S.
“Tourism is coming back,” Titus said. “All the planes I’m on are full now. International tourism is a little more difficult but just (last) week, some of the restrictions were lifted on our communications and transportation with the UK, China and several other parts of the world, so that will help.
“International tourists are great because they stay longer and spend more,” Titus said. “And the Pacific Rim was really our growth market, so we are hoping to get those tourists back. But even though they are coming back, what we really need are the business travelers. You need to fill those beds during the week and not just on the weekend. And that’s been harder.”
Other signs also point to a resurgence of Nevada’s overall tourism industry. Nevada’s monthly ‘gaming win” statistics, released this week, showed Nevada casinos have collected more that $1 billion from players for the sixth consecutive month. The Strip, the jewel of Titus’ congressional district, produces most of that revenue.
“In Nevada, we depend so much on tourism that when the economy is hit, we’re hit harder, it lasts longer and it is harder to recover because people have to have a little money to come (to Las Vegas),” she said.
Titus praised decisions by Nevada’s major gaming companies to mandate that employees wear masks on the job as the gaming industry battles the Covid pandemic.
“Now you add the fact that they (tourists) need to feel safe to come, so shutting down was very hard but if we had not done that, it would have taken us longer to get back,” she said. “Now with our employees, some of the big gaming companies are requiring vaccinations and masks and testing and all that so people will feel safe coming.”
Titus also addressed her district’s key domestic travel issue — that of an proposed high speed rail line, connecting Las Vegas to Los Angeles, Las Vegas’ largest domestic market.
“I have supported that for a long, long time,” Titus said, adding that she is working on providing federal funding for the project.
Brightline, the only private passenger rail operator in the U.S., wants to begin construction on a LA to Vegas high-speed electric train by early next year, according to a report in Forbes.
“I was able to put some provisions into the transportation bill that would give funding (to high-speed train development),” Titus said. “It is going to be competitive but we are competitive with Brightline and (we’re seeking) funding to build high speed rail lines and to increase private-activity bond levels which will also help with the financing.”
Titus hinted at an Eastern bias in Congress when it comes to the federal government and high-speed trains.
“All the train focus has been on the Northeast (U.S.),” she said. “We need to have some (high-speed trains) connecting the Southwest. Distances are greater but also some of the jurisdictional problems and the geography would make it easier to do that.”
So far, Amtrak has joined Brightline as a possible builder of a high-speed train from LA to Las Vegas, Titus said. She said only one of the projects would probably ever come to fruition.
“I doubt if you’d end up getting both, but either one would be an advantage over what we have now,” she said, referring to the automobile traffic between the two southwestern cities.
“If you’re on I-15 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on the weekend, it is like a parking lot,” Titus said. “So anything we can do to make that better will help business and help the individual not spend so much time in the car. And it will help with air pollution in a time that we are trying to deal with climate change.”