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UK Largest Segment of Las Vegas' Overseas Visitors with 392,000
 Citizens in 2004; Japan Second with 217,000 Visitors
By Chris Jones, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Aug. 16, 2005--Las Vegas residents may want to learn the words to the British classic "God Save the Queen."

God knows her subjects are saving up their cash before pumping it into this city's economy.

For the third consecutive year, residents of the United Kingdom made up the largest segment of Las Vegas' growing overseas visitor count.

Approximately 392,000 U.K. citizens came here from across the Atlantic, up 8.3 percent from 2003, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said Monday.

Japan ranked second with 217,000 visitors, up 29.2 percent, followed by Germany's 119,000, a 24 percent gain.

Overall, the city's 2004 overseas visitor count exceeded 1.6 million, which was a 23.6 percent increase but still below 2000's level, when nearly 2.34 million overseas travelers came to Southern Nevada.

Travelers from the top three nations benefited from scheduled or charter air service that was capable of carrying them directly from their homelands to McCarran International Airport.

In May 2004, Virgin Atlantic Airways added a fourth weekly nonstop between McCarran and London's Gatwick Airport, while Derby, England-based bmi on Oct. 31 launched thrice-weekly service to and from Manchester.

Japan Airlines' Tokyo service carried more than 82,000 local passengers last year, while Germany's Condor carried nearly 20,000 charter passengers through McCarran in 2004.

Including nations that border the United States, Canada remained the city's top international market with nearly 1.5 million visitors last year, a 25.2 percent increase.

The number of travelers who came here by plane from Mexico also grew significantly to 313,000, up 15.1 percent from 2003. That was also and that nation's highest total on record.

Mexico's visitation figures are typically harder to calculate because it's impossible to track how many of its citizens drive to Las Vegas after entering the United States elsewhere.

Likewise, visitation totals from all other nations are clouded by travelers who fly to Las Vegas on U.S. carriers after entering the United States elsewhere.

Including all foreign nations, Las Vegas' international visitor total last year was 3.41 million, up 23.4 percent from 2003 but still below 2000's record of slightly more than 4 million.

This week's overseas visitor numbers for Las Vegas were slightly higher than the 1.56 million reported earlier this summer by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.

Kevin Bagger, the convention authority's research director, said Monday the lower earlier total was based on preliminary numbers which have since been updated.

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Copyright (c) 2005, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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