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February visitation up from 2021, but still down from pre-COVID 2020

Updated March 30, 2022 - 10:12 pm

Visitation to Las Vegas continued its trend of being vastly improved over a year ago but significantly below pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels of two years ago.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Wednesday said that nearly 2.62 million people visited Southern Nevada in February, a 69.9 percent improvement over February 2021 but 18 percent fewer than February 2020 when the virus outbreak first started to take hold.

Only one tourism indicator — resorts’ average daily room rate — showed improvement over last year and two years ago. The LVCVA said visitors paid $149.52 a night on average in February, 52.5 percent more than in February 2021 and 15 percent more than two years ago.

All other key indicators were better than last year but worse than the year before.

“Overall hotel occupancy reached 69.3 percent, roughly 10 points ahead of January, up 17.7 points vs. February 2019,” said Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA research center.

“Weekend occupancy came in relatively strong at 87.5 percent, 24.7 points ahead of the weekend levels of last February and only 4.4 points below February 2019. Midweek occupancy still reflected a convention segment in recovery but reached 60.7 percent, well over the 32.1 percent level of last February, but down 23.9 points vsl February 2019.”

Joe Greff, a gaming industry analyst for New York-based J.P. Morgan, said the lingering effects of COVID-19 were likely to blame for lower occupancy rates.

“We attribute the drop in visitation largely to the lingering effects of omicron, which had an impact on flight cancellations into Harry Reid International Airport,” Greff wrote in a Wednesday report to investors. “We note that convention attendance was 439,000 attendees in February (down 41 percent vs. 2019). This compares to 305,300, 126,700 and 400,900 attendees during January, December and November, respectively.”

Southern Nevada’s best attended convention of 2021 came in November when the Specialty Equipment Market Association automotive aftermarket trade show met in Las Vegas.

Other tourism indicators that stood out with the up-from-’21, down-from-’20 levels included room nights occupied (up 71.2 percent, down 18.9 percent) and enplaned passengers at Harry Reid International Airport (up 107.1 percent, down 7.9 percent).

Traffic on major highways, counted by the Nevada Department of Transportation is above 2021 and 2020 levels as is Clark County gaming revenue, reported by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Highway traffic is up 11.3 percent over 2021 and 16 percent over 2020, while gaming revenue is up 50.4 percent over last year and 6.4 percent over 2020.

Visitor volume to Laughlin was up 4.7 percent to 93,300 in February, but down 34.1 percent from February 2020.

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

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