Monday, April 14, 2008 | 5:55 p.m.
If not for leap year, Las Vegas visitor volume, one of the best indicators of tourism demand, would have been down a half a percentage point in February versus a year ago.
The extra day in February helped boost visitor volume by 3 percent, though average daily hotel rates in Las Vegas were down 5 percent – a clear sign of the softening economy, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported today.
"Given what's happened in the marketplace, we're happy with a 3.1 percent increase in visitor volume," said Kevin Bagger, the visitors authority's director of Internet marketing and research.
Las Vegas hotels rates aren't holding up against the strong rate increases of the past couple of years, driven by new resorts like Wynn Las Vegas, Bagger said.
A favorable calendar for conventions, including four major shows that were all held in February versus other months in previous years, helped boost results. Convention attendance rose 16 percent and non-gaming spending by convention-goers rose 2 percent in February.
Airline passengers traveling through McCarran International Airport and auto traffic at the California border was up 3 percent and down 9 percent, respectively, though the data is an imperfect tourism indicator because it includes residential traffic, Bagger said.