Valley tourism sizzles in July

The scorching heat of the Mojave desert in July didn’t stop people from visiting Las Vegas.

Nearly 3.4 million people made the trip to Southern Nevada pushing the occupancy rate for Las Vegas to 92 percent, a record for the month.

The number of visitors was up slightly from July 2006 even though convention traffic was down 33 percent.

Kevin Bagger, director of Internet marketing and research at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said hotels were nearly full in July, historically one of the weaker months for the area.

In the 1980s, for example, July occupancy dipped into the mid-70 percent range even though there were only about a third of the number of hotel rooms as there are today.

“Very aggressive marketing,” is what Bagger said convinced people to keep visiting in July even though temperatures in Southern Nevada can reach 120 degrees during the month. “Of course, the product of the destination has diversified enormously.”

Temperatures and visitation weren’t the only numbers that were up in July. The average daily room rate for the month jumped 13 percent in Las Vegas to $118. Year-to-date the rate is up more than 13 percent to $135.

Gaming revenue was also up in Clark County by 13 percent to $965 million in July and up almost 4 percent for the year to $6.4 billion. Even beleaguered downtown Las Vegas, which has been in decline for about a decade, saw the amount of cash lost by gamblers go up almost 10 percent to $54 million during the month.

The drop in convention attendance was largely attributable to accounting. The World Market Center’s summer market event which attracted around 50,000 people ended in August this year, meaning attendance won’t be counted in visitation numbers until next month. Another event by the Herbalife company that attracted about 13,500 people in July, 2006 rotated out of Las Vegas this year, Bagger said.

The news in July was mixed for Clark County’s remote gambling markets of Laughlin and Mesquite.

In Laughlin visitation was down 6.6 percent to 275,000 for the month and is down 8.7 percent to 1.9 million for the year. In Mesquite visitation was up 9.1 percent in July to 138,000 and is up 2.5 percent for the year to 960,000.

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