Southern Nevada’s tourism metrics are creeping ever closer to the prepandemic days of 2019, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday.
Visitor volume is up nearly 50 percent from last year, and convention attendance has grown exponentially since meetings, conventions and trade shows began returning to Southern Nevada in June.
Conventions and shows came to a virtual halt when convention venues were shuttered as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
“With meetings returning across the destination along with trade shows such as ASD Las Vegas (a four-day business-to-business marketplace), the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Bar and Restaurant Expo and the International Pizza Expo, the convention segment saw continued improvement, reaching an estimated 495,000 attendees for the month, roughly 90 percent of pre-COVID levels of March 2019,” said Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA research center.
“Overall hotel occupancy reached 80.6 percent, approximately 25 points year over year and down only 10.9 points from March 2019,” he said. “Weekend occupancy exceeded 92 percent, up 14.4 points year over year and down 5 points vs. March 2019.”
But one of the biggest upward comparisons, Bagger said, was in average daily room rate where hotel rooms climbed 63 percent over last year from $100.11 to $163.14. That rate was 21.8 percent higher than the $133.95 reported in March 2019.
Rates could show an even higher jump in April after resorts saw higher-than-normal demand over two weekends of Allegiant Stadium concerts for Korean K-pop band BTS, a five-day National Association of Broadcasters convention and three days of the NFL Draft.
Only one tourism indicator showed a decline this year from March 2021 — the amount of traffic on major highways leading into Las Vegas.
The Nevada Department of Transportation, which makes no distinction between tourism traffic and local traffic on major highways, reported a 0.1 percent decline in the average number of daily vehicles to 126,847.
The count at the Nevada state line with California on Interstate 15 near Primm was down 4.5 percent to 43,821 vehicles from March 2021, but up 1.7 percent from March 2019.
“We attribute the drop in visitation largely to the lingering effects of omicron (variant of COVID-19) and thus weaker midweek visitation,” Joe Greff, a gaming analyst with New York-based J.P. Morgan, said in a note to investors. “We note that convention attendance was 494,200 attendees in March (down 11 percent vs. 2019). This compares to 439,000/305,300/126,700 attendees during February, January and December respectively,” he said.
For the first quarter of 2022, visitor volume is up 66.4 percent over last year to 8.426 million. Occupancy rates were up 26.7 points to 69.8 percent for the quarter, and the average daily room rate soared 58.3 percent to $153.68 for the quarter.
Laughlin visitor volume was up 4.6 percent to 116,400 in March, but that was down 32.9 percent from March 2019.