Monday, April 19, 2010
Vegas: A Bad 2009, But Luck Is Changing
I've always liked Las Vegas. But, critics sniff, it's so over-the-top! Yeah, I reply, but it's over-the-top to an epic degree; it's the dang apotheosis of over-the-top.
Living in Arizona, I always recommend a visit to Vegas to foreign friends who haven't been there. They never regret it. Unlike Atlantic City, which is a grubby, mean-spirited burg, Las Vegas is full of life and sun and, yes, small-town cheer, even though it's a big city.
Anyway, Vegas has had a couple of bad years, with the economy sour and with other factors like a sharp decline in air service (Vegas is a cheap-fare market and airlines have pulled about 20 percent of capacity out of the destination).
The emotional public backlash against spending on corporate meetings and conventions -- Las Vegas and Orlando are the top cities for big conventions -- has also hurt. (What? Your company spent dough on sending people to Vegas? Eeeeek!)
Anyway, the very efficient Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau sent me the numbers for 2009. They look bad, but they also show a steady improvement all year, from truly dismal numbers in the earlier part of '09. Of course, the numbers on hotel rates are good news for visitors.
--Total visitor volume, down 3 percent.
--Airline passengers, down 8.2 percent.
--Hotel occupancy, down 4.5 percent
--Average daily hotel room rate, down 22 percent (to $92.93)
--Convention and meetings attendance, down 23.9 percent (to 4.5 million)
--Number of conventions and meetings, down 13.6 percent (to 19,394)
--Strip gambling revenue, down 9.4 percent
--Downtown gambling revenue, down 10.1 percent.