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Study: Vegas visitors spending
less $$$

Feb 17, 2004 5:02 AM

While gaming operators might be optimistic over the latest gaming revenue and tourism figures, the newly-released Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study indicates tourists are spending less money, both in and out of the casinos.

According to the Visitor Profile, the average tourist last year spent $780.53 for food, gambling, shows and shopping, down 5.4 percent from the previous year’s average of $825.54 and a whopping 20.7 percent less than an all-time high of $984.94 spent in 2000.

The largest declines were in the average tourist’s gambling budget, but he spent less in all travel categories, including food, shopping and entertainment.

Noteworthy is the average tourist’s shopping budget of $80.18, the lowest level in more than five years.

Many tourism officials as well as casino operators have sloughed off tourists’ penchant for gambling less by citing greater interest in shopping, especially high end shopping. But the statistics don’t reflect that line of thinking.

Moreover, the food and drink budget of $182.59 is a four-year low, and down 14.3 percent from a high of $213.17 in 2001.

Released by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, the Visitor Profile tracks key tourism trends from year-to-year, based on extensive polling and interviews conducted throughout the year.

Other trends that are worth noting include:

”¡ Fewer travelers are visiting downtown: Only 46 percent said they visited downtown Vegas, nearly a quarter less than the 60 percent who visited downtown five years ago.

”¡ First-time visitors to Las Vegas reached a five-year low, 18 percent, versus 26 percent in 1999.

”¡ More visitors are playing slots: 64 percent said they preferred slots, up significantly from 56 percent last year and 53 percent in 2001.

”¡ Conversely, fewer visitors said they play video poker: 9 percent in 2003, down from 12 percent in both 1999 and 2000, and 17 percent in 2001 and 2002.

”¡ Visitors continue to be middle-aged Americans: 74 percent said they were over 40 years old, up from 67 percent in 2001 and 2002; and the average visitor’s age of 50.1 years was up from 48.2 and 47.6 years the previous two years, respectively.