May visitor volume in Las Vegas down compared to 2015

Blame Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Or maybe all those people who showed up at Rock in Rio last year.

Southern Nevada visitor volume showed its first decline in 14 months in May as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday that tourist stays for the month were off 3.9 percent to 3.6 million people.

The strong May 2015 visitor performance, anchored by the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight May 2 at the MGM Grand arena and the inaugural Rock in Rio music festival over two weekends, turned out to be a tough statistical comparison and resulted in the first visitor decline since March 2015.

Another key factor in the decline: There were five full weekends in May in 2015 and four this year.

Convention attendance in May also was off slightly compared with a year ago with attendance down 1.2 percent to 428,031 people.

As a result of fewer visitors, occupancy rates fell and the lower demand resulted in a lower average daily room rate for the month.

Occupancy rates were off 3.2 percentage points and every category was down. Citywide, occupancy fell to 88 percent from 91.2 percent in 2015. Hotels and motels were down 3.3 points to 89.9 percent and 69.1 percent, respectively, and Strip occupancy fell 3.1 points to 89.6 percent and downtown, 4.1 points to 82.5 percent.

Weekend occupancy was the least affected, falling 0.9 points to 94.8 percent while midweek occupancy was off 3.5 points to 85.2 percent.

The average daily room rate was down 5.8 percent to $122.73. On the Strip, the rate was off 5.9 percent to $132.60 while downtown was off 5.2 percent to $60.57.

It was the first decline in occupancy rates since April 2015 and the first in average daily rates since August. Last month, resorts were celebrating a double-digit percentage increase in room rates over the previous year.

One category that defied the May swoon was the average daily highway traffic. The Nevada Transportation Department reported traffic on Interstate 15 at the California-Nevada border was up 2.2 percent to an average of 45,172 vehicles a day while traffic on all highways leading to Las Vegas was up 5.9 percent to 116,193 vehicles a day. The department noted that local residents traveling are included among visiting vehicles.

The drop in visitor volume was somewhat surprising, given McCarran International Airport’s report Wednesday of a 3.9 percent increase in May passengers over the previous year. But it also was reflective of Clark County’s decline in gaming win also reported Thursday.

Despite the May decline, Southern Nevada remains on track for a record year with volume 1,2 percent ahead of 2015’s pace.

The convention authority reported a five-month total of 17.7 million visitors. Occupancy rates, average daily room rates and convention attendance remain ahead of 2015’s five-month totals. Even with the convention attendance drop — the first monthly decline since July 2015 — the number of conventioneers, 3 million over five months, is 12.1 percent ahead of 2015’s five-month total.

Although visitor volume was off for Las Vegas, Laughlin and Mesquite weathered the month well. May volume was off 0.2 percent to 162,466 visitors in Laughlin, and it was up 3.2 percent to 113,231 in Mesquite for the month, according to the authority, which tracks Laughlin and Mesquite visitation as well.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

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