Friday, September 10, 2010

5 Saturdays Boost July Visitation 4.7 Percent

Don't get your hopes up too high, folks, but there's actually some seriously good news today on the economic front.

The LVCVA put out the monthly data for July, and the headline is that visitation and room-nights occupied were both up 4.7 percent and that room rates rose 4.8 percent over July 2009. Also, July 2010 saw a record drive-in traffic from California. At the same time, though, gaming revenue dropped 5 percent from last July, reflecting more frugal tourists.

The big caveat here is that there were five Saturdays in July, but guess what? That also happened in 2006, one of our peak years. I looked at the numbers from back then, and they tell the story even better:

* Visitation in July 2006 was only 1.1 percent higher than in July 2010
* There were 15,000 fewer rooms then
* The average daily room rate was $104.19, down $13.81 or 13.2 percent
* Gaming revenue for Clark County was $850,255,000, off more than $156 million or 18.4 percent.

So, the visitation gains are real. It's just that the rest of the enterprise remains a wreck. Downtown Las Vegas in particular is a disaster, down 19.3 percent in gaming revenue in July 2010 versus July 2009 but down 35 percent fr0m July 2006. Sweet lord.

Also sad: That extra Saturday didn't even help Laughlin and Mesquite, both of which still lost visitors in July 2010 versus July 2009. Laughlin room rates were down 12 percent, to $40.14 a night, although the Laughlin airport saw a 28.2 percent jump in passengers deplaning. Did a new carrier come to that market?

Bottom line: Las Vegas is still extremely popular. The notion that the city is dead, that it can never recover, is a lie. People still love coming here and they'll be back whenever they can afford it. That's the silver lining, even if it is way, way, way off in the horizon.