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Number of young, first-time visitors to Las Vegas on the rise

Las Vegas is experiencing an influx of younger and new visitors, indicating that investments by resorts in new forms of entertainment may be paying off.

Millennials accounted for a third of all visitors last year, up from about a quarter in 2015. That brought the average visitor age down to 44 years, according to a report published Wednesday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

First-time visitors to Las Vegas accounted for 27 percent of all tourists in 2016, up from the high teens over the previous four years. First-time visitors are likely to be millennials or international tourists, said Kevin Bagger, executive director of LVCVA’s research center.

Las Vegas resorts have been investing money into new nightclubs, shows and restaurants as a way to attract younger visitors and offset stagnant gaming revenue. The city now boasts some of the top nightclubs, performers and restaurants in the nation.

Visitors continue to cut down on the amount of time they spend on the casino floors and boost the amount of time they spend outdoors, Wednesday’s report showed. Visitors on average gambled less than two hours last year, down from close to three hours over the previous four years. The number of visitors that gamble while in Las Vegas fell to 69 percent from the low 70s, continuing its steady decline.


However, visitors hitting the casino floors did set aside more money for gaming, a possible reflection of the improving economy and job market, Bagger said. Visitors on average budgeted $619 for gaming last year compared with $579 the previous year.

Gaming wasn’t the only segment to see sagging interest. The number of people attending shows has steadily declined over the past few years, falling from 72 percent in 2013 to 52 percent last year. Tourists are substituting other forms of entertainment for shows, the study shows. Nearly one in two said they spent money on entertainment — such as a sporting event or museum — compared with about a third in 2012.

Tourists more than doubled the amount they spent on sightseeing last year from $15 to $36. That may have been driven by the growing popularity of ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, which make getting off the Strip cheaper and easier. Visitors spent nearly $100 last year on local transportation, an increase by nearly a third.

One in five visitors now spends time visiting destinations like Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, up from one in seven in 2012.

The number of tourists visiting Las Vegas rose 1.5 percent last year to 42.9 million, a record high. Residents of California continue to account for about one-third of visitors, Bagger said.

GLS Research, a San Francisco-based public opinion and market research firm, compiled data for the report based on information from 3,600 tourists polled during 2016.

Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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