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More affluent visitors finding their way to Vegas — and staying

Updated June 26, 2024 - 11:46 am

Not only are tourists flocking to Las Vegas at greater than pre-pandemic levels, but more affluent visitors are filling hotel rooms, a new study says.

The Placer.ai “Las Vegas: A Tourism and Migration Deep Dive” report also says that greater numbers of people are making Southern Nevada their home as migration data indicate that many of those moving in are high-wage earners who are likely incentivized by the cost of living and the tax benefits of the region.

The recent report affirms the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority 2023 Visitor Profile Study issued in March that said visitors to Las Vegas are spending more for lodging, food and beverage, transportation, shopping and gambling, but a little less for entertainment, perhaps dissuaded by high ticket prices.

Study takeaways

Key takeaways from the Placer.ai study showed:

— Tourism in Las Vegas is booming, with overnight stays in the city growing both year over year and compared with pre-COVID.

— Visitors to the iconic Las Vegas Strip are growing steadily more affluent, cementing the entertainment corridor’s positioning as an upscale vacation destination.

— At the same time, many new and affluent residents have made the Las Vegas area their permanent home.

“Like many vacation destinations, Las Vegas took a significant tourism hit at the onset of COVID,” the report said. “But with travel restrictions now a thing of the past, visitation to Las Vegas is roaring back.”

Statistics in the report show that since mid-2023, monthly visitation levels have been greater than in pre-pandemic 2019 every month except July.

The report attributes the rise in visitation to “robust demand for experiences” and “investment in new one-of-a-kind entertainment venues like the Sphere,” which opened toward the end of 2023. But it also acknowledged that the area received a nice bump in early 2024 thanks to the city hosting Super Bowl 58 at Allegiant Stadium in February.

“This indicates that the Strip is becoming a more upscale visit destination, and that demand for Vegas’ luxury offerings are driving visits,” the report says. “As more consumers with ample discretionary dollars make their way to Vegas, pricey shows – in addition to retail – are likely to become ever-more lucrative advertising opportunities.”

Median income of visitors climbing

The study also says the median income of visitors has climbed every year since 2022 and is higher than it was in 2019 before COVID hit. After a first-quarter average median income of a visitor of $90,800 a year in 2019, the level fell to an average $89,700 a year in 2022. It then rose to $92,200 a year in 2023 and now stands at $93,000 a year.

Higher income levels also have been detected among the people who are migrating to Southern Nevada.

The bottom line is that more affluent visitors are coming to enjoy the destination and many of them like what they see when they come and make a command decision to figure out how they can live here.

“Comparing migration data in December 2023 to December 2020, 2021, and 2022, revealed consistently positive net migration and origin to destination HHI ratios in the years since 2019,” the report says. “This indicates that the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise CBSA continues to attract many new and affluent residents. When planning future amenities and services, the region may want to take into account the opportunities – and challenges – presented by these population shifts.”

The LVCVA’s March report offered similar statistics and researchers had a few different takeaways from the data they collected.

Visitor satisfaction

Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA’s Research Center, says he’s always most interested in visitor satisfaction levels. The theory is that if visitors are happy with their decisions to come to Las Vegas, they’ll be more inclined to make second and third trips later in the year or come back next year.

“I want to know that our visitors are having a good time,” Bagger said in a recent LVCVA board meeting. “Is there anything that’s making them go in the wrong direction?”

Typically, the satisfaction level over the years has been around 95 percent. According to the LVCVA study, the disappointments that visitors cite most often are the high cost of visiting Vegas, complaints about their treatment at hotels (think “resort fees”), the high homeless population and the difficulty of getting from one place to another in town.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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