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Room-tax collections up in Las Vegas despite lower visitation rates

Room tax collections are at record levels despite tourist visitation being below 2016’s record pace.

The reason: Room rates are well above average, occupancy rates are at near-record levels, and more and more rooms are coming on line.

The combination of greater visitation levels, higher rates and more rooms bodes well for 2020 when the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is projecting record visitation with new amenities set to debut and a favorable convention calendar that will include two of the largest nonannual shows coming to the city during the year.

LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill told members of the organization’s board of directors Tuesday that room-tax collections are strong with six out of eight months of collections so far in 2019 achieving record levels.

“In fact, we have set a record for room tax receipts at the LVCVA eight of the last 10 months, and we came pretty close in the other two,” Hill said after the meeting.

Since October, room tax collections are up 4.4 percent ($244.1 million) with February collections up 11.7 percent and November, 10.1 percent, from their previous years.

March was the only month in which collections were less than the previous year.

“Frankly, I think what’s happening in Vegas now is the entertainment that has come the last couple of years has added buzz, the NFL coming, everything that’s been happening with the (Vegas Golden) Knights and sports has created new excitement around the destination,” he said.

Hill explained that factors figuring into room tax collections are visitation, occupancy rates and room rates.

In the first seven months of 2019, visitation is 0.6 percent above 2018 levels. In 2016, Las Vegas had record visitation of 42.9 million people.

So far in 2019, citywide occupancy is running at 89.6 percent for the year; record citywide occupancy was achieved in 2007 at 90.4 percent.

Room rates citywide are averaging $133.99 a night this year. The 2018 average was $128.85 and in 2017, it was $127.35.

The LVCVA reported its best year for room tax collections was 2018 when Clark County collected $282.6 million for the LVCVA.

When tax collections run ahead of projections, the LVCVA board can vote to augment its current fiscal year budget. Hill indicated Tuesday that the board could opt to buy furnishings for the Convention Center expansion rather than use bond money for those transactions.

The expansion is scheduled to be ready in late 2020 in time for the 2021 CES in January.

The LVCVA has projected 2020 to be a record year for visitation with nearly 5,000 hotel rooms being added to the inventory by the end of the year with the completion of Resorts World Las Vegas and Circa.

Currently, there are 148,739 hotel rooms in Southern Nevada. The highest total Las Vegas had was in in 2013 when Las Vegas had 150,593 rooms. That total was reduced with the closure of hotels and some properties taking rooms out of service for renovations.

The visitation in 2020 also is expected to be impacted by a major special event: the NFL draft April 23-25.

The city also will start realizing visitation from the completion of Allegiant Stadium, scheduled in less than a year. The Las Vegas Raiders could host eight home football games and two preseason games. The stadium also would house UNLV football and concert events.

The 2020 convention calendar also should be robust with the city hosting two shows that aren’t annual events.

ConExpo-Con/Agg, a construction industry trade show, will be March 10-14 at the Convention Center with attendance expected to be 129,000. The National Mining Association’s MINExpo 2020 is scheduled Sept. 28-30, 2020, and is expected to draw 50,000 people to the convention center.

In other business Tuesday, the board unanimously approved a pair of sponsorships for events that will bring meeting and trade show planners to Las Vegas.

The city will host more than 2,000 meeting planners from 48 countries for the three-day International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Expo! Expo! Dec. 3-5. Board members approved spending up to $192,000 for the show.

More than 6,200 people, including 1,300 international and domestic travel buyers, are expected to attend the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2020 May 30-June 3. Board members agreed to spend up to $1.65 million on that event.

The board also approved spending up to $165,000 in a two-year contract with TQC Group Expression of Paris for a Las Vegas representative office in France.

The LVCVA is increasing what was a $60,000 annual contract because Level International Airline Group will begin non-stop flights between Paris and McCarran International Airport on Oct. 30 and TQC will increase marketing Southern Nevada to residents of France in advance of the new flights.

Board members also reviewed R&R Partners’ “Hypervegas.3” marketing campaign designed to convince travelers to make more leisure and business trips to Southern Nevada.

Last week, the LVCVA’s five-member marketing committee received details of the campaign in a two-hour presentation.

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

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