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Gaming Guru

Laura Carroll

October tourism numbers in Las Vegas tick upward

10 December 2012

LAS VEGAS -- October was a solid month overall for Las Vegas visitation.

Month-over-month, visitation was up 2.9 percent to 3.5 million over October 2011's total of 3.4 million. Year-to-date, Las Vegas visitation rose 1.9 percent, bringing the total number of 2012 visitors thus far to 33.6 million, according to the monthly Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority count released Friday.

With just two months left to count in 2012, Las Vegas may yet reach its goal of 40 million visitors . The previous year-end high was 39.2 million visitors in 2007, and 2011's year-end total was 38.9 million.

October's citywide hotel and motel occupancy combined rose to 89.4 percent from 86.8 percent in 2011. Year-to-date it grew slightly from 85.4 percent in 2011 to 85.7 percent in 2012.

Occupancy at hotels month-over-month grew to 91.1 percent in 2012 from 2011's 90.1 percent. Year-to-date, hotel occupancy was up ever-so-slightly to 88.8 percent from 88.5 percent in 2011. Motel occupancy's year-to-date count rose to 58.5 percent from 2011's 58.1 percent.

Weekend stays in October rose from 2011's 92.7 percent to 95.2 percent, and midweek occupancy also was up to 87.3 percent from 2011's 84.4 percent. Overall, Las Vegas had 4.16 million occupied hotel-room nights in October, up 3.1 percent from 2011's 4.04 million.

Although occupancy and visitation were up, Union Gaming analysts noted they think the visitor mix is skewed toward lower-yielding guests.

"We think the mix of visitors into town needs to improve before we see a more meaningful pickup in gaming and nongaming spending in Las Vegas," the analysts said in a statement.

October's average daily room rate was up 2.6 percent to $117.70 from $114.68 in 2011. Year-to-date, the average daily rate has risen 3.2 percent from $105.58 in 2011 to $108.97 in 2012.

Multiple trips to Las Vegas by both major candidates during the 2012 presidential election may have contributed to the rise in overall visitation and growth in room rates. Halloween also is a popular holiday for Las Vegas.

October's convention attendance grew 4.3 percent to 477,248 people from 2011's total of 457,686. Year-to-date, the figure is up 0.7 percent to 4.36 million from 2011's 4.33 million. Total conventions and meetings held in October were up 22.9 percent to 3,001 from 2,441 in 2011.

Again, the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority is citing show rotation cycle as the reason for the October convention attendance swing, as it did in September. The Live Design International show with 11,000 attendees returned to the destination and SAP Global with 6,100 attendees was held in October, whereas it fell in September during 2011. Meanwhile, The Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth attracted 45,000 people at the end of the month, and IMEX Group's 2012 IMEX America show brought 2,430 exhibitors and almost 4,400 attendees to the destination.

Year-to-date, the total number of conventions and meetings held has risen 16.3 percent to 18,577, over 2011's 15,973 total. The convention authority's senior manager of research, Scott Russell, has said it's because of a large number of smaller shows entering the destination.

The average daily number of vehicles coming into Las Vegas dipped 0.4 percent in October, from 94,920 a year ago to an estimate of 94,583 in 2012. The number coming from Southern California on Interstate 15 was up 4.8 percent to an estimate of 38,387 vehicles from 36,630. Vehicle counts include visitor, resident and commercial traffic.

Elsewhere in Clark County, the number of Laughlin visitors fell 7.4 percent, while Mesquite visitation also dipped 0.1 percent in the month-over-month comparisons. Year-to-date, Laughlin's visitor count was down 8 percent and Mesquite's was up 2.6 percent.