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Airport passenger numbers launch strong tourism start for ’23

Updated March 1, 2023 - 7:03 pm

Visitation to Southern Nevada, paced by improving convention attendance and a strong start in passenger volume at Harry Reid International Airport, climbed nearer to pre-pandemic levels, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Tuesday.

The authority reported that 3.3 million people visited Southern Nevada in January, a 32.3 percent improvement from a year earlier and 4 percent shy of pre-pandemic January 2019.

Late Monday, the Clark County Department of Aviation said 4.4 million people used the airport in January.

Every tourism metric measured by the LVCVA was higher in January than a year earlier, most of them by double-digit percentages.

Citywide hotel occupancy soared 19.8 percentage points to 79.1 percent, with weekend occupancy up 13.8 points to 88.4 percent and midweek visits up 23.2 points to 75.2 percent.

The average daily room rate climbed 32 percent to $191.62 a night, with Strip rooms up 33.7 percent to $205.70 and downtown Las Vegas rooms up 15.1 percent to $104.58 a night.

Room rates in January were 22.4 percent higher than they were in January 2019.

“With strong weekends and rebounding attendance for conventions, including the citywide trade shows of CES, World of Concrete and the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoors Trade) show, Las Vegas hosted an estimated 3.3 million visitors in January, well ahead of the lingering pandemic-suppressed volumes of January 2022,” Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA Research Center, said in his report.

The only tourism metric that didn’t reach a double-digit percentage increase was the average daily traffic on major highways leading to Las Vegas. The Nevada Department of Transportation reported an average 116,693 vehicles on highways, a 6.7 percent increase from January 2022 and a 9.2 percent increase over January 2019.

On Interstate 15 at the Nevada-California border, NDOT counted an average 40,501 vehicles, 5.4 percent more than in January 2022.

The department does not differentiate between vehicles with tourists and local traffic.

At the airport, the passenger total was 39.5 percent ahead of January 2022 figures. Reid reported 4.1 million domestic passengers, a 36 percent increase over last year, and 237,611 international arrivals and departures, a 151.8 percent increase over 2022.

There was no change in the ranking of domestic commercial air carriers, with Southwest Airlines dominating with 1.5 million passengers, a 33.2 percent increase over January 2022, followed by ultra-low discounters Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines and domestic legacy carriers Delta and American.

Nevada’s Democratic congressional delegation on Monday applauded Reid International receiving $31 million in funding from the Airport Terminal Program of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport is a gateway to our state, bringing visitors from around the globe and helping make Las Vegas the world-class travel destination that it is,” Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said in an emailed statement.

“The travel and tourism industries are key to the success of Nevada’s economy,” Rosen said. “The improvements made possible through this funding that I secured for Harry Reid International Airport will make long-overdue improvements to modernize the airport, replace aging and outdated infrastructure and improve traveler experience.”

Visitor volume was up in Laughlin and Mesquite too. The LVCVA monitors those cities and reported Laughlin had an estimated 85,900 visitors, a 2.6 percent increase over a year ago, while Mesquite was up 5.7 percent to 74,000.

Laughlin reported occupancy of 40.1 percent on its 8,752 hotel rooms, with an average daily room rate of $52.14 a night.

Mesquite’s occupancy was 73.3 percent on its 1,647 rooms with an average daily room rate of $72.07 a night.

Room rates were up 7.3 percent over last year in Laughlin and 0.6 percent in Mesquite.

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

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