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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 21, 2002

Vegas tourism rebounds — sort of

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas tourism numbers have rebounded to about what they were a year ago, but the profit margins are still lacking, a local economist said.

Visitor volume declined a scant 0.3 percent in May to 3.06 million, about 9,000 fewer than the same month a year ago, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.

For the year, Las Vegas has had 14.7 million visitors, off 1.9 percent from a year ago.

"They brought some of that visitor volume back through price discounts for people in the middle of the week," said Keith Schwer, director of the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research. "So while volume may be back, the pinch is on profits. They're not quite back as far as volume."

Convention attendance soared 17.8 percent in May to 411,444, and the economic impact of those conventions rose 10 percent to more than $437 million.

Occupancy levels at the 126,394 hotel and motel rooms were at 86.3 percent, down 1.7 percentage points from last year. Hotel occupancy was 90.3 percent, off 1.9 percentage points.

"On the top line, we're pretty close, but on the bottom line we're not so close," Schwer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Of course, that can vary from place to place."

The number of passengers that arrived and departed through McCarran International Airport dropped 3.2 percent to 3.04 million in May, and remains down 6.9 percent for the year at 14.3 million.

That's been offset by an increase in automobile traffic to Las Vegas. Average daily traffic on all major highways rose 13 percent in May.