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Chris Jones

Las Vegas Visitors Stay on Record Pace

13 July 2004

A surge in convention attendance powered another record for local tourism in May, when Las Vegas welcomed more than 3.2 million visitors for the third consecutive month.

The city's 3.26 million May guests represented a 6.9 percent gain from the same month of 2003, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said Monday. The performance was the city's best May ever and was the 11th consecutive period in which Las Vegas has enjoyed year-over-year monthly increases in visitor volume, said John Piet, senior research analyst for the convention authority.

Fueled by approximately 24,000 attendees at the National Hardware Show's first appearance in Southern Nevada, as well as solid gains by recurring shows such as the International Council of Shopping Centers and Networld+Interop's technology showcase, Las Vegas hosted 509,298 conventioneers during the month, up nearly 28 percent from May 2003.

Piet said two local beauty product trade shows also shifted to May from June 2003, transferring their business to the earlier month's tally. Regardless of which show they attended, visiting business travelers left behind more than $608.1 million in nongaming spending, up more than 32 percent from a year ago.

Through May, Las Vegas' 15.76 million visitors was 7.3 percent better than last year's five-month total and remained on pace to easily top the city's best 12-month total of 35.85 million visitors set in 2000.

A rush of May business travelers fueled an 11 percent jump in average daily rates for local hotel and motel rooms, which climbed to $94.88 from $85.47 a year ago. Through May, the local average was up 9.6 percent to $94.38.

In addition to paying more for rooms, visitors also found vacancies were scarce. Occupancy levels within Southern Nevada's nearly 129,800 rooms was 90.9 percent in May, up 5.2 percentage points from last year. Year-to-date, the citywide occupancy rate of 89.8 percent was up 4.5 percentage points from a year ago.

Laughlin's May visitor count fell by 8.9 percent to 333,508, a decrease Piet said is normal for small tourism markets. Year-to-date, the Colorado River resort's 1.8 million reported visitors was up just 0.4 percent compared with the first five months of 2003.

Mesquite's 150,901 May visitors was virtually unchanged from May 2003's reported 150,953 tally. That city's five-month visitor count was up 2.5 percent from a year ago at 739,148.