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Mass shooting may have little impact on Las Vegas tourism

  • As police continue to investigate the motive behind Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas, it's too early to assess the exact impact on the city's thriving tourism industry.
  • Sunday's shooting stunned the nation and left some wondering if tourists might choose other travel destinations in the wake of the tragedy.
  • But the experience of Orlando, Florida, indicates that the impact may be relatively small.

As police continue to investigate the motive behind Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas, it's too early to assess the exact impact on the city's thriving tourism industry.

At least 58 people were killed and 515 injured at an outdoor country music festival when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from a 32nd-floor hotel room on the Las Vegas strip, according to Las Vegas police. They identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada, and said he shot himself to death before police entered his room.

The death toll would make it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, exceeding the 49 killed in an Orlando nightclub shooting last year.

Southern Nevada welcomed nearly 43 million tourists last year, a record, and the city is on track to exceed that this year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Visitors spent some $35.5 billion (about $827 per person), up 16 percent from 2015.

The tourism industry is the biggest employer in Las Vegas, where some 300,000 people work in the leisure and hospitality sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And though it ranks ninth in overall private employment among major U.S. cities, tourism is responsible for the biggest share of jobs; roughly one in every three private-sector workers in Las Vegas is employed in leisure and hospitality. (New York has the largest number of tourism workers overall, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Washington.)

Sunday's shooting stunned the nation and left some wondering if tourists might choose other travel destinations in the wake of the tragedy. But the experience of Orlando, Florida, indicates that the impact may be relatively small.

As home to major theme parks, Orlando is also heavily reliant on the tourism industry, second only to Las Vegas, with roughly one in four workers employed in leisure and hospitality jobs, according to BLS data.

The city has also suffered the tragedy of a mass shooting. In June 2016 a security guard at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others.

But the city's tourism industry has seen little impact. Orlando continued to see solid growth in the first half of 2017 in both the number of visitors and the average rates at area hotels and resorts, according to Visit Orlando.

As of August, tourism-related employment was up nearly 5 percent from a year ago, according to the BLS.

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