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April 17, 2014

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Big hit in convention traffic cuts visitor volume again in August

Convention attendance took a big hit in August, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said, with the number of shows for the month down 22 percent over last year and attendance off 58.9 percent to 235,841.

The loss of convention traffic continues to be one the biggest problems plaguing the local tourism industry. Overall, visitor volume was down 3.7 percent to 3.1 million people in August. It was the 15th straight months of percentage declines in visitor volume.

For the first eight months of 2009 visitor volume is off 5.8 percent to 24.5 million, and convention attendance is off 30.1 percent to 3.2 million. The number of meetings held in eight months is down 19.7 percent to 12,315.

Authority officials say convention attendance figures may not be as dire as they appear because of convention scheduling differences between this year and last year. But they concurred that the current economic climate is continuing to put a dent in convention attendance as organizations cancel or postpone shows and meetings, and many organizations that send delegates to events are sending fewer people.

August resort occupancy rates showed a continued slide and the average daily room rate was off 21.5 percent compared with a year ago. The authority reported an average daily room rate of $84.02 for the month.

Weekend occupancy rates were down 1.9 percentage points to 88.6 percent, but the convention-dependent midweek occupancy rate was off 8.7 percentage points to 78.5 percent. Overall, citywide occupancy was off 6.9 percentage points to 81.4 percent and for 2009 to date it’s off 6.2 percentage points to 82.7 percent.

LVCVA officials say while occupancy rates are far from historic highs for the city, they’re still well above the national average. Smith Travel Research says the national occupancy rate is at 56.6 percent.

The lull in visitation has had a corresponding effect on gaming revenue. Clark County gaming revenue was off 6.7 percent to $708.1 million for August. On the Strip, revenue was off 9 percent to $449.6 million for the month. For the first eight months of the year, county gaming revenue was down 12.4 percent to $5.88 billion with Strip revenue down 13.6 percent to $3.64 billion.

Statewide, gaming win was down 9.3 percent to $847 million in August, the 20th straight month of percentage declines. Only one of 19 geographic areas monitored by the state Gaming Control Board has an increase in gaming win over August 2008. Boulder strip win was up 21.5 percent to $63.4 million for the month. State officials don’t disclose which properties are in which geographic areas, but it’s believed that M Resort, which opened in March, is in the Boulder strip.

Most tourism statistics for the month were negative, but one exception was in average daily auto traffic. On major highways, traffic was estimated up 3.3 percent to 93,310 trips a day while traffic at the California-Nevada border on Interstate 15 was up 3.7 percent to 45,382 average daily trips.

Authority officials acknowledge that freeway traffic includes a mix of visitors and residents as well as commercial traffic and pass-through traffic en route to Utah. But they added that they think the decrease in air passengers arriving at McCarran International Airport — down 9.8 percent that month — and the increase in average daily auto counts indicate a larger proportion of visitors are coming from drive markets.

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