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Chris Jones

Las Vegas July Visitor Count Declines

14 September 2006

LAS VEGAS -- The local tourism industry's recent slowdown continued in July when the Las Vegas Valley reported fewer year-over-year visitors for the third consecutive month.

The city hosted slightly less than 3.37 million monthly visitors, down 0.5 percent from July 2005, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said late Wednesday.

Year-to-date, the citywide visitor count of more than 22.73 million was up just 0.3 percent compared with the first seven months of 2005, which was ultimately the busiest year in local history with nearly 38.6 million annual visitors.

Since March and April each saw gains of just 0.3 percent, the city's largest industry hasn't enjoyed substantial visitor growth since gains of 4.2 percent and 2.6 percent were reported in January and February.

When its 2006 forecast was released at the start of the year, the authority projected more than 39.1 million people would visit the valley this year. That forecast has since been downgraded to 38.7 million, a gain of just 0.4 percent.

"Economic factors are affecting the value-oriented market and properties, including gas prices and other concerns," said John Piet, the authority's senior research analyst.

July's returns weren't all bad, however.

Although motel occupancy slipped by more than 10 percentage points to just 63.8 percent, occupancy rates for the valley's hotels reached the 95 percent mark.

"We haven't since a July figure that high since 1993 when there were 60,000 fewer (hotel) rooms," Piet said.

Overall, the city's 133,347 guest rooms were 91.1 percent occupied in July.

July's average daily room rate exceeded $104, a 10 percent gain from a year ago.

Total room nights occupied slipped by 0.3 percent, however.

Conventions continued to power the local market following a 22.1 percent gain in the number of events held, and an 11.1 percent jump in convention attendance.

Highway traffic slipped by 1.6 percent, though McCarran International Airport hosted nearly 4.1 million arriving and departing passengers, a 2.4 percent gain.

Mesquite enjoyed its second consecutive month of growth with 126,798 visitors, up 1.6 percent. Year-to-date, its 935,762 visitor total was off the prior year's pace by 4.7 percent.

The returns were worse from Laughlin, which welcomed 294,151 July visitors, a decrease of 16.7 percent. Its annual total reached nearly 2.1 million, down 13.6 percent from the comparable period of 2005.