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Lack of conventions hits visitation numbers where it hurts

Updated February 25, 2021 - 3:49 pm

Las Vegas really missed CES. And World of Concrete. And the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT Show.

January normally is one of the city’s biggest convention months. But there’s nothing normal about the COVID-19 era and after hosting 717,100 conventioneers in January 2020 — the second best convention attendance month of the year. Since April, zero conventioneers have been attending shows in Las Vegas.

“Continued COVID impacts and the resulting absence of conventions and major tradeshows such as CES, World of Concrete, etc., translate to significant year-over-year declines in January visitation, occupancy and (average daily rate),” said Kevin Bagger, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s director of research in remarks accompanying January results.

Without conventions, overall visitation plummeted as well. In January, visitor volume was 1.295 million, a 63.5 percent decline from a year ago, but 3.8 percent more than in December.

The lack of conventions and tradeshows also affected occupancy rates. Total occupancy was 31.6 percent, down 54.3 percentage points from last year. Occupancy was 48.3 percent on weekends (down 41.8 points), and 22.5 percent at midweek (down 61.3 points).

The average daily room rate fell 40.9 percent to $90.71 a night. On the Strip, it was off 40.9 percent to $96.51, and in downtown Las Vegas, it fell 19.8 percent to $63.95.

The best performing tourism metric was the daily auto traffic on all major highways. The Nevada Department of Transportation reported 105,799 vehicles a day, down 1.2 percent from January 2020.

“We think trends in Las Vegas have likely bottomed and should inflect upwards,” said Joe Greff, a gaming industry analyst with New York-based J.P. Morgan in a note to investors.

The LVCVA also monitors tourism activity in Laughlin and some metrics in Mesquite.

In January, the LVCVA reported visitor volume of 82,600 for the month, down 39.7 percent from a year ago in Laughlin, with an occupancy rate of 38.6 percent, down 17.7 percentage points from a year ago. The average daily room rate of $52.43 was up 38.5 percent from a year ago.

In Mesquite, on Interstate 15 at the Nevada-Arizona border, the Nevada Department of Transportation reported daily traffic of 25,509, up 3.2 percent from the previous year.

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

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