Vegas visitation sets mark

Feb 19, 2008 5:43 AM

It was another year, another record for visitors to Las Vegas, although this one might be tempered with caution for the future.

The visitor total for 2007 reached 39.2 million, eclipsing 2006’s total of 38.9 million, marking the fourth straight year Las Vegas set a new tourism record.

"The strength of the Las Vegas brand continues, as reflected by another record year for visitation," said Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), which released its annual report last week.

However, the record number of visitors was 100,000 below last year’s projections, and the 0.7 percent increase from the previous year was the smallest since 2002, when visitor volume increased 0.2 percent.

In addition to releasing last year’s visitor statistics, the LVCVA last week issued a projection that 39.8 million people would visit Las Vegas this year, which would be a 1.5 percent increase over 2007.

To justify a doubling of the visitation’s rate of increase, the LVCVA cited the addition more than 9,000 new hotel rooms in the city.

In addition to a record number of visitors, Las Vegas also matched its highest hotel occupancy level in history, reaching 90.4 percent for the year, tying its previous record set in 1996.

Other visitor statistics in the LVCVA report include:

”¡ The average hotel room rate topped $132 per night, a 10.3 percent increase over last year, and nearly 75 percent more than the $76 per night in 2002.

”¡ Auto traffic from Southern California actually decreased 1.4 percent, the first decline since 2003, perhaps reflecting higher gas prices.

”¡ Passenger counts from airlines, however, increased by 3 percent.

”¡ Attendance for Las Vegas conventions declined 1.6 percent to 6.2 million in 2007, the first decline in more than a decade.