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Las Vegas sees best March ever for tourism

Updated April 26, 2017 - 5:04 pm

Las Vegas posted its highest March visitation numbers, mimicking gaudy airport traffic statistics reported earlier in the week, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority officials said Wednesday.

The authority reported 3.78 million visitors to Southern Nevada for the month, a 1.4 percent increase over March 2016.

It was the third-best month in history behind last July (3.83 million) and October 2015 (just under 3.78 million).

Experts attributed the high number to having an additional weekend date this year compared with last year and to the triennial arrival of the massive ConExpo-Con/Agg construction equipment trade show. Nearly 130,000 people attended that event.

Convention attendance was up 13.3 percent to 757,444 despite there being 8.9 percent fewer conventions and trade shows, 1,883 for the month.

The high visitor count also boosted state gaming win as casinos statewide reported taking in $991 million in March, 7.4 percent ahead of the same month a year ago.

More importantly, three-month win trends climbed by the highest level in a year, up 4.8 percent over the first quarter of 2016, the state Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.

Because of the hefty March visitation results, room demand soared. The LVCVA reported the average daily room rate climbed 21.9 percent to $149.02 for the month moving the quarterly average up 8.3 percent to $140.31.

Citywide occupancy also soared 2.2 percentage points to 94 percent. Motel occupancy scored the biggest jump, moving from 75.7 percent a year ago to 81.1 percent in March. Downtown occupancy rates were up 4 points to 89.2 percent.

“March is always busy for us and it was a record March for number of visitors in the month,” LVCVA spokesman Jeremy Handel said. “Occupancy wasn’t a record, but to put in perspective, we have significantly more rooms than the record month for occupancy, which was March 1996.”

In that record month, the occupancy rate was 95.8 percent, but there were only 90,266 rooms to fill. Last month, there were 149,351 rooms in the market.

The NCAA March Madness basketball tournament produced impressive sportsbook revenue this year. At the state’s 190 locations to bet basketball, books won $41.3 million, a 91.7 percent increase over last year. But books had just a 9.6 percent win percentage for basketball.

The state’s three-month trend of win for January, February and March was encouraging and Southern Nevada’s top markets outperformed it. For the quarter, Clark County win was up 5.6 percent, the Strip was up 5.5 percent and downtown Las Vegas continued its impressive run up 18.2 percent.

Fiscal-year trends also are encouraging for casino win.

Statewide, for the nine months between July 1 and March 31, win is up 3.2 percent to $8.67 billion. For the same period, Clark County is up 3.3 percent to $7.51 billion, the Strip is up 3.7 percent to $4.95 billion and downtown Las Vegas is up 9.9 percent to $455.2 million.

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

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