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Gaming Guru

Chris Jones
 

Conventions Helped Attract 3.33 Million Visitors To Vegas During Month

14 December 2004

Visitors each have their reasons for coming to Las Vegas, but in October those temptations to travel frequently included new tile flooring and private jets, the latest dirt bikes and the chance to sample next year's favored Slurpee flavors.

Others came in pursuit of good luck in the casino, a late-season tan and even Air Force One. Some hit the jackpot, while many others' hopes were dashed. But travelers came here nonetheless, this time in record numbers.

Powered by solid growth in both the convention and leisure sectors, Las Vegas welcomed more than 3.33 million people to town in October, a single-month historic best for local visitor volume.

"We're very, very pleased with the numbers," said Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter, whose organization released its October visitor summary on Monday. "The fact that this is the biggest month in the history of Las Vegas is significant as we come to the close of 2004."

Through the first 10 months of this year, the city hosted more than 31.6 million guests, up 5.6 percent from a year ago and on pace to top Las Vegas' 12-month record of nearly 35.9 million visitors set four years ago. And while he's pleased with October's performance, Ralenkotter said local travel officials are already expecting a better new year.

"Look at what's on the horizon for 2005," Ralenkotter said. "We have the centennial, a very strong convention calendar and the opening of Wynn Las Vegas. All of our indicators suggest the demand for Las Vegas is as high as it's ever been."

The year's 10th month is traditionally a busy time within the area's nearly 129,000 hotel and motel rooms. However, a favorable combination of trade show schedules and this year's U.S. travel resurgence gave October a larger boost than normal.

Nearly 625,000 visitors attended a convention locally during the month, up 14 percent from a year ago. Popular business gatherings included the National Business Aviation Association trade show, which brought an estimated 30,000 people to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The venue also hosted the 25,000-attendee National Association of Convenience Stores, as well as the 25,000-attendee Global Gaming Expo, which shifted from its September run in 2003.

The city's two other major convention halls also bustled during the month. Mandalay Bay Convention Center's lineup included the 20,000-attendee International Tile and Stone Show, which shifted from its November show schedule a year ago. A few miles up the Strip, The Venetian's Sands Expo and Convention Center hosted the 23,000-attendee Interbike Expo, and the 15,000-attendee Lighting Dimensions International trade show, which returned to Las Vegas after a one-year absence.

Overall, conventioneers occupied nearly 1.4 million room nights during the month, up 19.5 percent from a year ago. Their nongaming spending totaled more than $748 million, up 17 percent.

Campaign stops by President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., frequently disrupted flights in and out of McCarran International Airport in October, but leisure travel numbers were also up for the month. The convention authority said vacationers occupied 2.36 million room nights, a 1.4 percent gain from a year ago.

Citywide occupancy levels were 93.8 percent for the month, a gain of 6.2 percentage points. Increased demand allowed local hoteliers to charge an average daily rate of $100.87, up more than $11 from October 2003's average rate.

Results were mixed in two outlying resort communities. Laughlin's 318,397 October travelers was a 4.6 percent decrease, while its year-to-date total of 3.47 million was off 3.1 percent.

In Mesquite, October traffic clmbed by 6.6 percent to 159,942 visitors. Through October, its 1.48 million visitors was a 1.9 percent gain from 2003.