|By Richard N. Velotta, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 09, 2011--Southern Nevada had 3.4 million visitors in October, the highest monthly total of the year and the most in one month since March 2007.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority today reported visitation was 2.7 percent greater than in October 2010. The average daily room rate of $114.68 in October -- 12.2 percent ahead of last year -- also was the highest for a month this year and the highest amount since October 2008.
LVCVA analysts said a 9.2 percent increase in convention attendance was a big contributor toward the higher overall volume, and most of the increase was due to a positive show rotation.
The American Dental Association, which last met in Las Vegas in 2006, brought 45,000 people to the city when it returned in October. The National Business Aircraft Association, last in Las Vegas in 2004, added 27,000 people. The American Gaming Association's G2E show also moved to October this year from November in 2010.
Through the first 10 months of 2011, an estimated 32.9 million people visited Las Vegas, a 4.5 percent increase over the same period in 2010, and the average daily room rate was up 10.9 percent to $105.58 for that time frame.
Analysts with Las Vegas-based Union Gaming said the numbers provided more evidence that occupancy rates and room rates will continue to climb through 2013.
"In our view, the strength in year-to-date total visitation (+ 4.5 percent), air lift (+4.4 percent) and taxi counts (+9 percent) at McCarran airport, when coupled with no supply growth in 2012, supports our notion that the Las Vegas Strip is on pace to experience unprecedented occupancy and higher room rates in 2013 and beyond," Union analysts said today in a note to investors.
The city has now experienced 20 straight months of visitor volume and average daily room rate increases. Citywide occupancy rates also grew by 1.9 percentage points in October to 86.8 percent, the fifth-best month of the year.
The only negative numbers in the LVCVA report were a reduction in average daily auto traffic on all major highways coming into the city, including Interstate 15 from California. Using statistics from the Nevada Department of Transportation, the LVCVA reported a 2.5 percent decline in average daily auto traffic to 94,420 on I-15 at the California-Nevada border. Traffic on other major highways was off 1.7 percent to 36,630 vehicles.
But the Union Gaming analysts even turned that into a positive, saying the increase in air passengers and the decrease in auto traffic represented a more lucrative mix of visitors. Visitors who fly into Las Vegas tend to stay longer and spend more money in the community than those who drive, statistics show.
Visitation wasn't as good for Laughlin and Mesquite, which are both monitored by the LVCVA.
Mesquite visitor volume was off 1.9 percent to 91,459 for October, with hotel occupancy down 3.3 percentage points to 85.9 percent. But the average daily room rate was up 2.9 percent to $57.04.
It was worse in Laughlin, where visitation was down 10.1 percent to 177,409, with occupancy down 6 percentage points to 59.3 percent. The average daily room rate was up 4.2 percent to $38.64. Laughlin was hurt by a 27 percent drop in convention attendance to 8,071 people and a 28.2 percent decline in daily auto traffic to 4,353 vehicles on Highway 163.
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