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Las Vegas: More are visiting, but they're still spending cautiously

February 08, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • The famous sign along the Strip in Las Vegas. The news Friday on visitor numbers was fabulous too: Visitor numbers set a record in 2012.
The famous sign along the Strip in Las Vegas. The news Friday on visitor numbers… (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg…)

More than 39.7 million people visited Las Vegas in 2012, about three in 10 of them from Southern California, according to stats released Friday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

That's good news for southern Nevada, which was hard hit by the economic downturn. For the visitor, the news isn't quite as good: Room rates are up, thanks to demand.

The visitor totals represent a 2% increase from 2011. Even better news for Nevada: That's about about 500,000 more people than visited in 2007, the previous record.

And, attention, long-suffering Interstate 15 motorists: If you think the roads were more crowded, it wasn't your imagination. Last year’s daily vehicle count at the California-Nevada state line -- 42,143 -- was up 2,335 from five years ago.

You are paying more for your room too. In 2012, room rates averaged $108.08 a night, up about $3 from the previous year. Still, that average is $24 a night below the 2007 peak.

With more than 150,000 rooms, Las Vegas hotels fill more rooms per night, on average, than any other destination in North America, according to the visitor association.

Visitors continue to be somewhat cautious with their discretionary dollars. Last year’s gaming revenue for Clark County, which includes the city of Las Vegas and the unincorporated area that includes the Strip, was nearly $9.4 billion. That's up 2% from 2011, but it’s nearly $1.5 billion (8.5%) below 2007’s record high.

Visitors pumped more than $40 billion into the local economy last year.

"Tourism is the economic leader for southern Nevada and the entire state, so we are encouraged to see positive signs of continued growth for the industry,” Rossi Ralenkotter, president and chief executive of the LVCVA, said in a written statement.

“With more than $2 billion of reinvestment in the destination, Las Vegas is well positioned for continued growth in 2013 and on the threshold of hosting more than 40 million visitors."

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