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Gaming Guru

Laura Carroll

Las Vegas tourism mostly upbeat in March

11 May 2012

March was generally positive for Las Vegas tourism.

Total visitor volume was up 3.7 percent from the same month in 2011, marking the 25th consecutive gain in prior-year comparisons for the monthly Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority count.

In all, 3.5 million tourists came to Las Vegas in March, up from March 2011's 3.4 million total. Year to date, 9.76 million people have visited the city, up 3.6 percent from 2011's 9.42 million year-to-date total.

"Visitation is up again, for more than two years, and that's obviously good for the destination," said Scott Russell, senior manager of research for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

March's citywide hotel and motel occupancy combined rose 1.1 percent, with hotel occupancy, specifically, rising 1 percent. Year-to-date, total citywide occupancy increased 0.5 percent and hotel occupancy by 1.3 percent.

Weekend stays in March were down 0.9 percent from 2011's numbers, and midweek occupancy rose 1 percent. Overall, Las Vegas had 4.1 million occupied hotel-room nights in March, 2.5 percent more than a year ago.

However, the average daily room rate, for the first time since May 2010, was lower than the previous year at $107.21 compared with 2011's $111.13 rate, a 3.5 percent decrease. In a year-to-date comparison, however, the average daily rate increased 3.6 percent from $105.99 in 2011 to $109.84 in 2012.

Russell said there are "several things at play" in terms of the lower average daily rate in the month-to-month comparisons, and he pointed to the Conexpo-Con/Agg show, with 120,000 attendees, as a major reason for the decrease. The triennial show won't return until 2014.

"Not having that large show ... that was probably the lion's share of that difference," Russell said.

Convention attendees typically spend $1,273 per Las Vegas trip compared with a leisure traveler's average spend of $676. Conventioneers also stay almost a full day longer. Room rates on convention days for the larger shows tend to soar.

Although the total number of conventions and meetings held in March was up 34.6 percent at 2,302 from 2011's 1,710 events, convention attendance was down 3.9 percent at 513,010 from 2011's 533,579 total.

Again, the convention authority cited the Conexpo-Con/Agg show as the reason for the decrease. Year-to-date, convention attendance is up 0.5 percent and total conventions and meetings held are up 37.1 percent.

The average daily number of vehicles coming into Las Vegas increased 0.9 percent in March, from 101,223 a year ago to 100,273 in 2012. The number coming from Southern California on Interstate 15 was up 7.9 percent to 40,304 vehicles from 37,354.

Elsewhere in Clark County, the number of Laughlin visitors fell 8.4 percent, while Mesquite visitation was up 6.3 percent.