Las Vegas Tourism Indicators Reveal Strong Economic Position Midway Through 2019

Posted on: August 5, 2019, 10:12h. 

Last updated on: August 5, 2019, 10:41h.

Several key Las Vegas tourism indicators show that the city’s economy is performing well at the halfway point of the year.

Las Vegas tourism gaming revenue
Las Vegas tourism numbers are up across the board. (Image: Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) released its June executive summary showing that visitor volume was up 1.2 percent and is in positive territory through the first six months of 2019. More than 21.1 million people have traveled to Las Vegas this year, which is a 121,700 more than did so at this point in 2018.

Convention attendance is responsible for the small uptick in visitor volume. Those venturing to Southern Nevada primarily for exhibitions has grown 1.1 percent January through June.

With more people needing a place to rest their heads, casino resorts have been able to raise their rates. The average daily room on the Strip this year has cost $135.23, a nearly $5 premium. Citywide occupancy is at 89.3 percent, and weekend occupancy is at 94.6 percent.

The Bad

Most of the Las Vegas tourism data markers are in the black. Through June, visitor volume, convention attendance, occupancy, revenue per room, total number of nights occupied, and air passenger numbers are all positive.

That’s why it’s a bit surprising to see numbers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board show that casino win on the Strip is down 1.4 percent. Casinos have reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $3.29 billion, down $45.6 million compared to 2018.

June 2019 did mark a strong performance for Strip casinos. They won more than $616.5 million, which was a 17.7 percent year-over-year surge and ended six consecutive months of GGR declines. Baccarat – a volatile game for casinos – has been blamed for the win decline. However, a strong hold in June helped return the house positive.

Gaming revenue for Clark County as a whole is essentially flat this year (-0.1 percent) at $5.18 billion. Downtown casinos continue to grow, as GGR there is up five percent to $337.5 million.

Hotel Rates

Those who don’t frequent Las Vegas often might find the average $135 per night room rate quite reasonable. But the rate doesn’t factor in the “resort fee,” which is common across the Strip and Clark County casino hotels.

Effective August 1, MGM Resorts raised its resort fees at its three high-end properties – Bellagio, Aria, and Vdara. The rate is now $45 per day. The casino operator says the increase was to fall in line with other ultra-luxury properties including Wynn, Venetian, and Palazzo.

Resort fees can greatly raise a price from the initial advertised rate. For instance, a two-night stay at the Bellagio on August 20-22 (Tuesday-Thursday) shows an advertised nightly rate of $149.00. But when the $45/day resort fee and taxes are included, the actual reservation total is $439.91 – or $219.95/day.

There are two lawsuits filed by the attorneys general for DC and Nebraska challenging the legality of hidden resort fees. MGM said regarding its increases, “MGM has long been among the most transparent in the industry when it comes to displaying fees during the booking process. Fees at our resorts are clearly identified at the start of the booking process and separately itemized before booking.”