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Visitation down from pre-pandemic levels, but room rates stay high

Updated December 29, 2021 - 6:21 pm

While the number of visitors to Las Vegas still hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels, average daily room rates have surpassed 2019 averages, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Wednesday.

The 3.112 million visitors to Southern Nevada in November was a big increase from a year earlier but 11.3 percent below November 2019.

“November room rates approached $156, surpassing November 2019 levels by 15.5 percent,” said Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA research center.

For the 11 months of 2021, visitor volume is at 29.23 million, a 64.3 percent increase over 2020 but 25.2 percent below pre-pandemic 2019. There is no chance 2021 visitor volume will surpass the record for volume, set in 2016 at 42.9 million.

Two big reasons for the decline in visitation: fewer international travelers through the year and virtually no convention attendance.

While conventions and trade shows returned to the city’s conference facilities in June, the LVCVA hasn’t reported any numbers from shows, awaiting verification of attendance from show producers.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association — a major automotive aftermarket trade show known as SEMA — reported attendance of 114,000 at its show last month, but the LVCVA didn’t tally any convention attendance in November.

While visitor volume is down, room rates are up.

Room rates began trending upward in April with steady percentage increases every month since. For the first 11 months of 2021, the average rate was $135.98, 64.3 percent more than in the first 11 months of 2020.

Room rate averages have surpassed 2019 levels this year for every month since June.

November hotel occupancy rates, which were down slightly from October, were up 38.3 percentage points from November 2020, but down 10.6 points from November 2019.

The LVCVA indicated the decline followed the pattern of high weekend occupancy but low for midweek stays, a reflection of convention traffic doldrums.

“Overall, hotel occupancy reached 77.6 percent for the month as weekends saw continued strong levels at 90.7 percent while midweek occupancy ebbed month over month to 71.9 percent from 77.5 percent in October,” Bagger said.

Other visitation trends were mixed with nearly every indicator below October levels, but above November 2020 amounts.

Air passenger traffic at Harry Reid International Airport was down 4.6 percent from October to 3.989 million. That was up 120.7 percent from November 2020 but still down 4.3 percent from November 2019.

Auto traffic on major highways leading to Las Vegas at a daily average of 134,567 vehicles was up 5.6 percent from October, 16 percent from November 2020 and 16.9 percent from November 2019. The Nevada Department of Transportation, which collects the data, says the traffic counts include local traffic and visitors to the city.

Much of the highway traffic was recorded at the California-Nevada border near Primm on Interstate 15. NDOT reported counts of 51,814 vehicles per day in November, up 11.3 percent from October, 23.2 percent from November 2020 and 17.2 percent from November 2019.

Visitor volume, occupancy rates and average daily room rates plunged in Laughlin in November from October.

The LVCVA reported Laughlin had 93,800 visitors in November, down 8.8 percent from October and 33 percent from November 2019.

The city’s occupancy rate was 45.3 percent, down 2.8 percentage points from October and 12.1 points from November 2019.

The average daily room rate of $53.55 was off 19.2 percent from October, but up 17.8 percent from November 2019.

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

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