Vegas visits up

Sep 14, 2010 7:02 AM

The tourism business to Las Vegas enjoyed a big month in July as 3.3 million people visited the city, a 4.7 percent increase over July 2009 and the largest single monthly increase since December 2005.

The increase was fueled by a 28.4 percent spike in convention attendance, a record number of drive-in travelers from Southern California and an extra Saturday in the month.

Despite the increase, gaming revenues on the Las Vegas Strip remained relatively flat as casinos raked in $461.3 million, virtually the same as in July 2009.

It should be noted, however, that Strip casinos now generate more than half their revenues from non-gaming sources, such as rooms, shows, restaurants, nightclubs, etc.

For the year to date, about 21.8 million people have visited Las Vegas, an increase of 2.3 percent compared to last year.

At its current pace, Las Vegas is projected to see 37.4 million visitors in 2010, about equal to the number who traveled here in 2008, but below the 39.2 million who visited the city in 2007.

As noted, one of the largest increases came from the record number of Southern California auto travelers. Drive-in traffic via I-15 jumped 2.9 percent during July with an average of 47,886 vehicles a day passing through Stateline at the Nevada/California border. The figure was the single-month record, according to convention authority officials.

While drive-in customers have increased, airline passenger counts remain down as flights in and out of McCarran International Airport decreased by 1.1 percent in July.