Drop-off in ’08 was first since 1982
For the first time in 26 years, the number of visitors to Las Vegas declined in 2008, a drop-off of more than 1.7 million travelers, according to LVCVA’s (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) monthly report.
For the month of December, the number of visitors to Las Vegas dropped nearly 11 percent to 2.7 million, compared to more than 3 million in December 2007.
The month-over-month decline was the largest in 2008, and capped a year in which overall visitation to Las Vegas slid 4.4 percent to 37.4 million, compared to 39.2 million visitors in 2007.
The decline was steeper in other Southern Nevada tourist destinations. The number of visitors to Laughlin in 2008 slipped 7.6 percent to 2.8 million, while Mesquite saw its visitor count drop 10.5 percent to 1.5 million.
The drop-off in December marked the deepest monthly decline of the year, a trend that started in June, when Las Vegas visitation slipped 3.1 percent.
Since then, the visitor count has dropped steadily and extending to double-digits in September.
While the annual decline in Las Vegas visitation was significant, it was less than half the decline in Strip casino revenue (10.6 percent).
The bulk of the drop-off in incoming visitors was felt at McCarran Airport, where passenger traffic was down 14.1 percent for December and 7.7 percent for the year.
Automobile traffic from Southern California was less affected as gas prices plummeted at year’s end. For December, traffic on I-15 at state line was down only 1.3 percent, and slipped 5.3 percent for the year.
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