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Visitation in Las Vegas Drops 8 Percent


by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
April 3, 2009

                The land casino market continues to diminish, unlike that of its online casino counterparts. According to the Las Vegas Gaming Wire, the discounts that Las Vegas resorts have begun to offer customers has helped attract tourist but not to maintain visitation this year as the figures dropped 8 percent in February to 2.8 million people.

                The numbers, taken from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, show a declining industry – illustrated in the increasing number of closing casinos and gambling resorts filing for bankruptcy.

                “You can’t just sit there and wait for tourism to go back up,” said Michael Crandall, director of business affairs for the Siegel Group. Despite the economic downturn and losses in consumer base, Crandall’s casinos are undergoing several million dollars worth of renovations. “Is it scary out there? Yeah, but it’s not going to slow us down.”

                The occupancy rate in Las Vegas for February was 83.9 percent, down 5.5 percent from the same period in 2008 and the lowest rate since 1991 when there were 75,000 rooms available as compared to 140,729 vacancies in 2008. The rates for rooms decreased 22.9 percent to $99.25 from $128.80 last year.

                Even convention attendance has decreased from previous years, dropping 34.8 percent to 583,168. “Part of it we think is the perception issue we had,” said Kevin Bagger, director of Internet marketing and research for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “It is hard to separate that from other things.”