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Gaming Guru

Richard N. Velotta

August Visitor Volume Drops

20 October 2004

Visitor volume was off slightly in August compared with the previous year, but analysts attributed the downturn to an aberration in the calendar and said tourism remains strong.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported visitation at 3.17 million, down 1.1 percent from the 3.2 million people reported in August 2003. It was the first decline in the trend in 13 months.

But an analyst with Deutsche Bank said the total, which also was down 0.4 percent compared with August 2002, resulted from there being five weekend dates last year and the kickoff of the Labor Day holiday weekend landing in August last year and in September this year.

"Overall, the soft visitation is not overly surprising given operator comments throughout the quarter and the slowdown in convention business," said Deutsche Bank's Marc Falcone in a report issued Tuesday. "Year to date, visitor volume is up 5 percent to 25.1 million and 2004 is well on track to reach new levels for the year."

The weak convention performance resulted from a handful of shows that didn't come to Las Vegas this year and a major event -- MAGIC Marketplace -- shifting some of its show dates into September.

Among the events that came to Las Vegas a year ago but didn't return this year were the World Educational Conference for Laundering and Drycleaning "Clean Show," which drew 16,500 people to the city in 2003. The show occurs every two years and will return to Las Vegas in 2009 after stops in Orlando and New Orleans.

The Las Vegas Gift Expo, which drew 12,700 people in 2003, and a corporate meeting for Walgreens that attracted 5,200 people also did not return to Las Vegas this year.

As a result, convention attendance was down 33.8 percent to 379,071 people. The number of shows in August fell 31.6 percent to 1,015 and the economic impact was off 34.2 percent to $444.6 million.

For the month, the LVCVA said the average daily room rate rose 2.1 percent to $80.71 a night over August 2003. Occupancy was listed at 89.5 percent, down 0.5 points. Weekend occupancy was at 96 percent, up 1.7 points, while midweek was at 87.3 percent, down 0.3 points.

Falcone said the number of seats coming into the Las Vegas market daily via airplane hit a record 73,100, continuing to stay above the 70,000 level first cracked in March.

Falcone said the number of long-haul seats coming into the market increased at a greater rate (26 percent) than were added from short-haul markets (12 percent). Long-haul markets generally are defined as those from east of the Mississippi River.

The LVCVA also reported that visitor volume was down for Laughlin and Mesquite in August. Laughlin reported visitation of 355,689 for the month, off 8.7 percent, while Mesquite volume was at 148,821, down 1.8 percent from August 2003.