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Delta variant spike behind August decline in tourism, LVCVA says

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority researchers believe the delta variant of the coronavirus is behind an August downturn in visitation to Southern Nevada.

The LVCVA on Thursday reported a 9.2 percent decline in visitation compared with visitation in July, but 95 percent higher than August 2020 figures.

“With the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus spiking during the month, August visitation receded from the pandemic-era peak in July, coming in at just under 3 million visitors, down 9.2 percent month over month and down 16.2 percent from August 2019,” said Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA research center.

The visitation decline also showed in two other key tourism indicators — hotel occupancy and average daily room rates.

The LVCVA reported occupancy of 72.8 percent, down 6.6 percentage points from July and down 14.9 points from August 2019. The average daily room rate fell 7.8 percent from July to $140.32, but up 16 percent from August 2019.

Joe Greff, a gaming industry analyst with New York-based J.P. Morgan, in a Thursday report to investors, noted that weekend occupancy continues to outperform midweek arrivals because convention traffic hasn’t returned as rapidly as leisure travel.

Greff also noted that August numbers were compared with figures from a very strong July.

Other indicators that were down from July included average daily traffic on major highways to Las Vegas, 127,723 vehicles, down 11.3 percent, with traffic at the California-Nevada border of Interstate 15 off 12.9 percent to 49,375 vehicles.

The Nevada Department of Transportation, which provides the statistics, does not differentiate between tourists and local traffic.

For the first eight months of 2021, the LVCVA has calculated that 19.8 million visitors have traveled to Las Vegas, 55.7 percent ahead of the first eight months of 2020, but 30.3 percent less than the first eight months of 2019.

Visitor volume in Laughlin was calculated at 95,600 in August, 9.5 percent less than in August 2020 and 40.4 percent fewer than in August 2019. There were 19.8 percent fewer visitors to Laughlin in August than in July this year.

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

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