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Chris Jones

Las Vegas Tops 3 Million Monthly Visitors

13 January 2006

LAS VEGAS – For the 10th time in 11 months last year, 3 million proved to be Las Vegas' luckiest number.

Nearly 3.1 million visitors came here in November, up 5.8 percent from November 2004, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said Thursday.

Only February, which posted a 2.95 million visitor count, has so far missed the 3 million threshold in 2005.

December and year-end data won't be released until next month.

Kevin Bagger, the authority's research director, said strong convention and leisure traffic continues to fill the city's 133,608 guest rooms, often at higher nightly rates.

"We have 4,800 additional rooms (compared to November 2004)," Bagger said. "The fact that we collectively continue to fill those rooms, and increase occupancy, is impressive."

Citywide occupancy in the month was 86.3 percent, up 1.6 percentage points from 2004.

Despite hosting 300 fewer business events than November 2004, Las Vegas saw monthly convention attendance grow by 16.3 percent. Room nights occupied by conventioneers increased by more than 17 percent.

Thanks to an abundance of business travelers, average daily room rates jumped to $111.29, well above the year ago average of $90.20 per day.

The city's second consecutive November sans the once-giant Comdex computer trade show benefited from a strong trio of automotive events, as well as an unexpected refugee from Hurricane Katrina.

In November's first week alone, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo and International Autobody Congress & Exposition trade shows brought more than 100,000 people to the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Exposition Center and Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

In late October, Bagger estimated the three events could draw between 130,000 to 170,000 visitors.

Because so many attended multiple shows, it remains difficult to estimate Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week's overall visitor impact.

The Las Vegas Convention Center also landed last year's National Association of Convenience Stores trade show, which brought 22,350 people here Nov. 15-18. The event took place here in October 2004, but was slated to move to New Orleans in 2005.

But Hurricane Katrina damaged that city's Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and Las Vegas stepped in. The move prevented the show's cancellation, and padded this city's bottom line.

Year-to-date, Las Vegas' 35.5 million count was up 2.8 percent from 2004.

The 11-month mark narrowly missed 2000's year-end count of 35.8 million, which was the city's best year until 2004 brought 37.4 million travelers here.

While Las Vegas rolled on, last year's downward trend continued in Laughlin and Mesquite.

Laughlin had 283,846 November visitors, or 1,156 fewer than the same month one year prior. Through November, Laughlin hosted 3.63 million travelers, down 3.5 percent from 2004.

Mesquite's problems were more pronounced. Its monthly count was 116,001, down 5.6 percent. In 2005's first 11 months, the Virgin River getaway reported 1.47 million visitors, an 8.7 percent decrease from the prior year.