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Number of visitors to Las Vegas dropped 3 percent last year


Justin M. Bowen / File photo

An aerial view of the Las Vegas Strip is shown in 2009.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010 | 4:55 p.m.

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The number of visitors to Las Vegas declined by 3 percent last year when compared to 2008.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said the city had 36,351,469 visitors last year. The average daily room rate for 2009 was $92.93, which was a drop of 22 percent compared to a year earlier.

Room inventory finished the year at 148,941, which was a 6 percent increase in the number of rooms over the past year. The average occupancy rate was 81.5 percent last year, which was down 4.5 percentage points from a year earlier.

Convention attendance was down 23.9 percent last year, while the number of conventions was down 13.6 percent, the LVCVA said.

But the numbers weren’t all bad.

A trend of increasing visitor numbers continued into the December, according to numbers released today. Las Vegas had 2,780,648 visitors in December, which was up 1.5 percent compared to December 2008.

It’s the fourth consecutive month that year-over-year visitor numbers have increased.

The LVCVA said convention attendance in December was up 11.6 percent compared to a year earlier, while the number of conventions was up 10 percent.

Kevin Bagger, senior director of marketing for the LVCVA, told the organization’s board of directors Tuesday that he is forecasting a 3 percent increase in visitors in 2010 to an estimated 37.4 million.

Bagger said that while Las Vegas’ 81.5 percent occupancy rate was down from last year, it still was considerably healthier than other centers of tourism. Citing statistics from Smith Travel Research, Bagger said convention-hosting rival Orlando had occupancy of 60.7 percent in 2009 while Chicago had a rate of 56.6 percent.

Other cities in the comparison: New York had an occupancy rate of 77.2 percent, the Hawaiian island of Oahu, 73.3 percent, and San Francisco, 71.6 percent. The U.S. average rate was 55.1 percent, down 5.2 percentage points from last year.

Las Vegas’ occupancy rate has been challenged by the dramatic increase in the number of rooms in the city. The 6 percent increase in the number of rooms translates into a net change of 8,412 rooms with the opening of the M Resort and CityCenter and expansions at the Golden Nugget, Planet Hollywood and two at the Hard Rock.

Other cities struggled with their average daily room rates, but Las Vegas’ 22 percent decline was the largest by percentage of any of the major tourism centers and at $92.93 was below the national average.

The average national ADR was calculated at $98, 8.8 percent below the 2009 level.

Most of the other major tourism centers were off by double-digit percentages. New York City’s ADR fell 21.8 percent to $215, Chicago’s fell 14.5 percent to $113 and Orlando’s fell 12.2 percent to $93.

Bagger said the LVCVA is happy about the four consecutive months of visitor volume increases, but leaders also are pleased with the three consecutive months of increases in the consumer confidence index through January.

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