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Chris Jones

Las Vegas Visitor Count Gains 2.6 Percent in July

14 September 2004

LAS VEGAS -- Despite two consecutive months with below-par improvements in the local visitor tally, Las Vegas' apparent summer slowdown was little more than a desert mirage, a local tourism official said Monday.

The city's reported 3.2 million July visitors was just a 2.6 percent gain compared with the same month a year ago. Coupled with June's 2.2 percent monthly improvement, it could appear that Las Vegas' record-setting 2004 tourism pace slowed this summer after several larger month-over-month gains were reported earlier in the year.

Not so, said Kevin Bagger, research director for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

"We're comparing strong period versus strong period now," said Bagger, who explained this year's early returns were magnified when cast against early 2003, when travel was slowed worldwide by concern over the then-new war in Iraq, Asia's outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and economic uncertainties in many parts of the globe.

"We're still on pace to attract 37 million visitors this year, but from here on out, the month-over-month gains aren't going to be as large as they were earlier this year," Bagger said.

Las Vegas has topped 3 million monthly visitors each month this year excluding February, when 2.9 million guests were in town during the 29-day month. Through July, the city's nearly 22 million count was up 5.9 percent from last year's 20.75 million over that year's first seven months.

Las Vegas' best 12-month total came in 2000, when nearly 35.85 million visitors were reported.

Average occupancy levels at the area's nearly 129,000 guest rooms reached 89.5 percent in July, up 1.5 percentage points. Year-to-date occupancy rates climbed to 89.4 percent from 85.8 percent in 2003.

Increased demand fueled higher room rates, which climbed on average to $79.41 per night in July, up 3.1 percent. On the year, local guests have paid an average of $90.23 per night, up 8.8 percent.

And while it typically cost guests more to book a room here, total room nights occupied improved by 2.1 percent to nearly 3.58 million in July; through seven months, that category climbed 6.2 percent to more than 24.6 million.

July wasn't as kind to a pair of nearby tourist destinations, however.

Laughlin's 360,069 monthly visitors was a 4.2 percent decrease from a year ago, while Mesquite's 146,068 marked a 3.2 percent dip.

Year-to-date, Laughlin's Colorado River resorts have hosted nearly 2.5 million visitors, down 1.5 percent from the first seven months of 2003. Mesquite's slightly more than 1 million visitors was a 0.7 percent increase from the same period a year ago despite a 3 percent gain in Interstate 15 vehicle traffic at the nearby Nevada-Arizona border.