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Laura Carroll

Number of visitors to Las Vegas in 2012 sets record

11 February 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas, we didn't quite make it to 40 million visitors in 2012, but we came close. When all was said and done, 39.7 million people came to the city in 2012, up 2.1 percent from 2011's final total of 38.9 million visitors, according to the monthly Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority count released Friday. And even though it's not quite 40 million, 2012 still was a record year for Las Vegas - the previous high was 39.2 million visitors in 2007.

"I'm happy that we had 500,000 visitors over our previous record," said Kevin Bagger, the authority's senior director of marketing.

Month-over-month, December visitation was up 2.8 percent to 3.04 million in 2012 from 2.96 million in 2011. Citywide occupancy for the month also was up to 75.8 percent from 2011's 73.1 percent. For the year-end, citywide occupancy moved only slightly though, from 83.8 percent in 2011 to 84.4 percent in 2012. Weekend occupancy stayed flat year-over-year, and midweek occupancy only rose to 81.6 percent from 80.7 percent in 2011.

Month-over-month midweek occupancy rose from 68.7 percent in 2011 to 72.9 percent, and weekend stays rose from 81.3 percent in 2011 to 82.7 percent in 2012.

Year-over-year, hotel rooms cost 2.8 percent more in 2012 at $108.08 than in 2011 when the average daily rate was $105.11 at year-end.

"Today's numbers continue to reflect modest growth in room rate, visitation and occupancy," Union Gaming analysts said in their report. "We have seen over the past several months a notable uptick in motel occupancy, which points to the market skewing toward a less affluent customer.

"All in, December was a solid month on the Las Vegas Strip. That said, we think the mix shift of customers needs to change before we see a meaningful pickup in gaming and outside-the-room spending."

The largest year-over-year change in the visitation numbers came from the number of conventions and meetings held in the destination, which is up 13.6 percent over 2011's total of 19,029 to 21,615. Convention attendance, though, rose only 1.6 percent for the year-end totals, to 4.94 million people from 2011's total of 4.87 million.

The average daily number of vehicles coming into Las Vegas rose 0.9 percent in 2012 over 2011, to 100,774 from 99,844. However, the number of autos coming from Southern California on Interstate 15 was up 4.5 percent to 42,143 from 40,344 in 2011. Vehicle counts include visitor, resident and commercial traffic.

Because every year-end core indicator was positive - occupancy, average daily room rate and auto travel - Bagger said the travel authority believes Las Vegas will reach 40 million visitors in 2013.

Elsewhere in Clark County, the number of Laughlin visitors fell 8 percent in 2012 to 2.07 million from 2011's total of 2.25 million, while Mesquite visitation rose 1.5 percent in the year-over-year comparisons to 996,146 from 981,541 visitors.