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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Las Vegas expecting a lackluster holiday

By Lisa Snedeker
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — As Las Vegas Strip megaresorts prepare for one of the city's busiest holiday weekends, revenues are expected to lag because of continued travel and economic concerns, tourism experts say.

About 276,000 visitors are expected over the Memorial Day weekend compared with the 275,000 visitors estimated to have stayed, gambled, shopped and dined over the weekend last year, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority figures.

While the number of visitors is expected to be up slightly, more rooms are expected to remain empty. Hotel operators are predicting room occupancy rates will be down to 95.4 percent compared with last year's 96.4 percent.

"The numbers are essentially flat," said Kevin Bagger, senior researcher for the authority. "That's because we have about 1,800 more rooms than last year."

The authority would not predict the nongambling economic impact for the three-day weekend because visitor spending patterns have been volatile since Sept. 11, Bagger said. Last year, the holiday brought $184.4 million, not including gambling, into the city.

"The destination is gradually recovering, certainly from an occupancy and visitor volume perspective," Bagger said. "However, the revenues being generated by those visitors isn't recovering as quickly."

The city's visitation numbers through March continue to lag by about 2 percent compared with the same period last year.

"Travel patterns haven't fully reverted to what they were (pre-Sept. 11)," Bagger said. "That compounded by economic concerns is affecting travel throughout the country."