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Chris Sieroty

Vegas likely to see Thanksgiving tourism bump

29 November 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Las Vegas tourism officials expect the number of visitors to the city for this year's Thanksgiving holiday weekend to increase 3.4 percent over last year.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said Friday that 270,000 tourists were expected to spend nearly $150 million through Sunday.

That figure excludes casino revenues, the authority said. Overall, nongaming revenues are projected to be down 2.3 percent holiday weekend to $149.8 million, compared to $153.3 million in 2009.

Hotel occupancy citywide was estimated to rise by 0.1 percent to 84 percent over the weekend because the total number of rooms has increased 3.5 percent from 141,672 in 2009 to 146,689 this year, the agency said.

Officials at McCarran International Airport also expect a busy end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend once visitors start heading home.

The airport expects at least 110,000 daily passengers on Sunday and Monday and is urging travelers to arrive two hours before their flight, said Michael Alonzo, a spokesman with McCarran International Airport.

Alonzo said Friday that travelers should verify their flight information before heading to the airport.

Even though many families have reduced their Thanksgiving spending, AAA expects more than 3 million people in the Mountain West region, which includes Nevada and Utah, to travel home 50 miles or more on Sunday. This represents an increase of 10.7 percent compared to 2009.

The biggest increase in travel over the four-day holiday weekend compared with last year can be found on the road. AAA Nevada projects nearly 2.9 million Mountain West residents will be traveling by motor vehicle this weekend.

This represents an 11.6 percent increase compared with last year, Las Vegas-based AAA Nevada spokesman Michael Geeser said.

Geeser said as families begin to recover financially, many of them are traveling to spend time over Thanksgiving with family and friends. He said this desire to travel was what propelled "a significant increase in Thanksgiving travel."

As with tourists to Las Vegas, residents in the Mountain West region were expected to spend less this year than they did a year ago.

An average family of four will spend an average of $235 over the holiday weekend. That's down more than $400 from a year ago, Geeser said.