March 18, 2020
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Republican Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Chuck Shumer, Democratic Leader, U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Congressional Leaders:
Thank you on behalf of all Nevadans for your leadership and the work that you are doing for our country during these unprecedented times. Your leadership is essential to the recovery of our nation. As Nevada’s largest and broadest-based business organization, the Vegas Chamber is committed to addressing issues on behalf of its members and their approximately 230,000 employees, especially those employed in the state’s tourism and gaming industry.
Tourism is the backbone of Nevada’s economy. Southern Nevada welcomes more than 42 million tourists annually and has a population of approximately two million people. The total economic impact of tourism in Southern Nevada is approximately $57.6 billion, while supporting 367,900 jobs, nearly half of the total private employment.\
As you know, the President of the United States declared a national emergency on March 13 because of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak. In an abundance of caution for the health of our visitors and employees, Nevada’s Governor on March 17, 2020 directed the closure of all of Nevada’s casinos for 30 days. Hundreds of thousands of room nights have been cancelled by large convention groups and businesses continue to cancel through May and June. While we understand the need for taking extreme precautions to curtail the further spread of the Coronavirus, these closures are having a devastating impact on our economy, employees, and families.
Additionally, Nevada’s state and local governments are heavily reliant on tax revenues from the gaming and tourism industry. Governmental services including K-12 education, social services, health and human services, and public safety are facing extreme pressure because of COVID-19. By helping including hotels, resorts, and casinos in federal support for the tourism industry, state and local government services will benefit as well.
Many of our employers are doing their very best to support their employees during these challenging times, but the reality is as COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, the economic impact is hitting Nevada’s employers and employees hard because of the nature of our tourism-based economy. Our employees and their families are dependent on the tourism industry and are asking for
Congressional assistance for our Nevada families by providing financial assistance to Nevada’s gaming and tourism industry.
We need your help for the sake of our Nevada families. I am asking that the federal assistance packages that are being created to help businesses and employers include help for Nevada’s tourism industry, including hotel, resort, and casino properties. It is imperative that we receive financial resources in this unprecedented crisis. This need is for the sake of the 367,900 Nevadans employed in Southern Nevada; this assistance will help working families that are dependent on the state’s tourism industry. Many of you have tourism and gaming in your state and any assistance would help those employers and employees as well in your community.
Las Vegas was one of the cities hit hardest by the Great Recession. Only recently have the tens of thousands of jobs that were lost– many in the gaming and tourism industry –been restored. We need help from Congress to make sure that we can protect these businesses and the men and women they employ and the small businesses they support.
Thank you for allowing the Vegas Chamber to reach out to you during these difficult times but with your help, I know we will be back stronger as a community and as a nation. If we can be of any assistance or provide you with any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at 702.575.8020.
Mary Beth Sewald
President & CEO