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Richard N. Velotta

Las Vegas smashes tourism record

31 December 2015

Las Vegas has broken its own visitation growth record, surpassing 42 million tourists with New Year's Eve totals still uncounted.

Southern Nevada rode an above-average increase in November visitation boosted by a 39.8% spike in convention attendance to put the region in position to break the record in December.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced smashing the record in the morning ahead of Wednesday's release of November statistics, which were expected to be robust after healthy increases in passenger traffic at McCarran International Airport and in gaming revenue.

Bolstered by new domestic and international nonstop flights, increased convention attendance throughout the year and the successful opening of several music festivals and special events, the city shattered last year's record of 41.1 million visitors.

Official 2015 totals will be announced in January.

"Las Vegas couldn't have reached this achievement without the support of our resort partners and the dedicated workers who make the Las Vegas experience what it is," said Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the authority.

"Whether a first-time visitor or a returning Las Vegas enthusiast, the destination continues to astonish travelers from all over the world with luxury resort experiences, world-class dining and exciting entertainment."

November's numbers were more of the same in a year that has been a tourism–industry highlight reel.

Every November tourism indicator — visitor volume, occupancy, average daily room rate, revenue per available room, convention attendance, airline passengers, auto traffic and gaming revenue — were ahead of the same month a year ago.

Convention attendance jumped to 559,681, thanks in part to the return to the city of the National Business Aviation Association (27,000 attendees) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (25,000) and a shift in the timing of the International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo (10,000), which occurred in October last year.

Las Vegas also hosted 1,970 conventions and meetings in November, 7.4% ahead of last year.

The average daily room rate climbed 7.3% to $121.77 and citywide occupancy went up 2.7%age points to 86.4% for the month.

Earlier this month, McCarran reported a 10.2% increase in passengers for November. The Nevada Transportation Department reported average daily traffic of 106,811 vehicles, a 6.1% increase from last year, on all major Southern Nevada highways and 44,110 vehicles daily, a 4.2% increase, on Interstate 15 at the California state line.

Airport passenger and highway counts don't separate tourists from locally generated traffic.

Laughlin and Mesquite, which are tracked by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, also had positive visitation trends for the month. November was only the third month this year that Laughlin visitation surpassed the monthly total from the previous year.

Laughlin showed a 0.7% increase in volume to 142,330, the lowest monthly total of the year, with a 2.2% increase in average daily room rate to $42.77 and a 2.5 percentage point increase to 55.1% occupancy.

Mesquite's visitor volume climbed 5% to 97,426, but the average daily room rate fell 2.4% to $55.31 and the occupancy rate was up 3.1 points to 73.5%.

The authority said the tourism economy generates more than $50 billion annually and supports 366,000 jobs in Clark County — 43% of the total number of jobs in Southern Nevada.
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