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The Nevada Resort Association has made a plea to the state’s congressional delegation for economic relief, as the group warns that the region’s economy could set for “devastating” impacts due to the unprecedented shutdown of nonessential businesses.

A request has been made asking Congress to consider providing “immediate economic relief and recovery to the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy,” after the COVID-19 pandemic saw Governor Steve Sisolak issue the closure order, including casinos, for 30 days.

Should Nevada’s tourism industry remain stagnant for a period of 30 to 90 days, Virginia Valentine, president of the association, asserts that recovery could take 12-18 months. This, it says, would put at risk nearly 160,000 jobs, $7.7bn in wages and salaries, $39bn in total economic output and more than $1bn in lost tax revenue.

“No other state in America depends on travel and tourism at the magnitude Nevada does,” Valentine wrote in the letter that was sent to senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jackie Rosen, and representatives Dina Titus, Susie Lee, Steven Horsford and Mark Amodei.

“Nevada depends more on tourism than Alaska does on oil; Wyoming does on coal mining; or, New York City does on the financial sector. Las Vegas, the state’s largest economic center, is more dependent on tourism than Detroit is on auto manufacturing; Seattle is on aerospace; or, Nashville is on music and entertainment.

“Each year, we welcome nearly 57 million visitors from around the world. As the state’s No. 1 industry, we are the largest employer, the largest taxpayer and the economic foundation the state thrives upon.”

At the request of the association, an economic research and analysis firm assessed the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nevada and determined that 320,000 employees relying on $1.3 billion in wages and salary payments each month are at immediate risk.

“These numbers are nearly twice those reported during the Great Recession,” Valentine wrote. “The near-term impacts of COVID-19 are devastating, not only for the industry, but the state as a whole.”

Adding: “This condition is not sustainable; and, should those efforts subside, Nevada could quickly see its unemployment rate increase above 30 per cent.”

Valentine concluded the letter by adding that “this is an unprecedented economic situation that will have catastrophic financial ramifications for individuals, families, businesses and state and local budgets across the state.

“With each passing day Nevada’s tourism-based economy is shuttered, the more difficult it is for Nevada to recover and for the state’s largest employers to continue assisting their workers during these uncertain times.

“As you can see, unequivocally, Nevada is being hit hardest by the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, and we respectfully urge Congress to consider providing immediate economic relief and recovery to the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy – the hospitality, tourism and meeting and convention industry and its vast workforce – for the security of Nevada families today and for the future.”