Vegas visitor numbers slow, but still up from September 2013

Southern Nevada’s tourism economy took the foot off the gas in September, improving at a rate that wasn’t as robust as it had been in recent months.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Tuesday that 3.3 million people visited Southern Nevada in September, a 1.4 percent increase over the same month a year ago. It was the first time this year that a month wasn’t deemed the best ever.

September 2012 still holds that distinction with about 8,000 more visitors than this year’s monthly total.

Convention attendance dipped slightly, motel occupancy was off by 3 percentage points and the average daily traffic counts on major highways was down less than a percent.

Still, the average daily room rate improved despite a big drop in rates for downtown resort properties.

With three quarters of visitor numbers in the books, volume is up 3.8 percent to 31.1 million. It would take a major tourism meltdown in the fourth quarter for Southern Nevada not to a record 40 million visitors.

Convention attendance fell 0.9 percent to 379,700 as the number of shows fell 2.7 percent, to 1,945 for the month.

Occupancy rates inched upward in every category except motels, which fell to 62.5 percent.

Downtown occupancy was up 2.7 percentage points to 77.9 percent and every other category went up by less than a point with rates ending at 88.4 percent for hotels, 93.5 percent on weekends, 83.1 percent on midweek days, and 88 percent on the Strip.

The continued rise in average daily room rates was a welcomed trend. The authority reported the rate for the month at $115.68. For the year, the average rate is 9.1 percent ahead of last year’s, at $117.62.

Citywide room rate averages have been dragged down by downtown rates. In September, the downtown rate was off 26.3 percent to $53.68.

In Clark County’s rural communities, which also are monitored by the LVCVA, Mesquite continued its double-digit percentage increase trend for visitor volume with a 10.6 percent increase in September. It was the 10th straight month double-digit percentage increases, with 78,450 arriving there.

Meanwhile, Laughlin continued to languish, showing its worst percentage decline of the year, 6.3 percent to 147,264.

Laughlin also had its second decline in average daily room rates for the year, down 2.6 percent to $40.86.

Mesquite, meanwhile, had its third straight month of improving average daily room rates with a 6.4 percent increase to $52.63. The three consecutive months of improvement followed six straight months of declines in room rates in 2014.

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

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