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Las Vegas sees big convention decline, visitation up slightly

Updated April 26, 2024 - 7:34 pm

Visitor volume in Las Vegas increased slightly in March despite a huge decline in convention attendance for the month, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday.

Meanwhile, hotel occupancy and average daily room rates fell despite near-record traffic at Harry Reid International Airport and a slight uptick in vehicle traffic on major highways to Las Vegas.

Visitation was up 0.4 percent to 3.67 million, but convention attendance fell by 37.2 percent compared with a year ago — a statistic more reflective of a tough comparison with March 2023 when the ConExpo-Con/Ag construction equipment trade show was in Las Vegas than a poor showing this year.

Hotel occupancy fell 3 percentage points to 85.3 percent in March and the average daily room rate dropped 16.4 percent to $178.26 a night.

For the first quarter of 2024, visitation is up 4.2 percent from last year to 10.43 million, while convention visitation is off 7.2 percent to 1.8 million for the first three months of the year.

Kevin Bagger, who heads LVCVA research, said the tough comparison against March 2023 included the room occupancy and room rate categories, which posted records a year ago.

RevPAR, or revenue per room, a profitability metric, was also down from a year ago by 19.2 percent to $152.06.

Also Thursday, the Clark County Department of Aviation reported near-record passenger counts at Harry Reid International Airport in March as more than 5 million passengers passed through the airport’s gates for only the third time ever.

In March, 5.043 million passengers arrived or departed from Reid International. The record of 5.47 million was set in October, and there were 5.18 million in October 2022.

A high volume of international traffic contributed to the busy month with 314,577 arrivals and departures — a 22.8 percent increase from March 2023. That’s the second highest post-pandemic total, trailing the 315,147 recorded in October.

Domestically, passenger counts were up 1.3 percent to 4.652 million, with market leader Southwest Airlines recording its second-highest passenger total at the Las Vegas airport. The Dallas-based airline reported 1.948 million passengers, a 14.2 percent increase from a year earlier and just below the 1.966 in October.

Southwest is offering the highest number of flights to and from Las Vegas in its history — 241 a day — and is using larger-capacity planes on many of its routes.

Internationally, Canadian discounter Westjet carried the most passengers to Reid, with 74,839 for the month, followed by Air Canada with 60,246. The top overseas carrier was British Airways, with 20,025 passengers.

Reid passenger numbers were up from a year earlier, despite a 17.3 percent decline in passengers using the westside and helicopter terminal, which reported 76,660 passengers.

For the first quarter of 2024, Reid passenger counts are up 1.7 percent from a year earlier, with 13.7 million. If that level can be maintained, Reid would surpass 2023’s record of 57.6 million passengers.

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

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