Las Vegas Tourism Industry Celebrates Recovery

It may have been one of the country's hardest-hit destinations during the Great Recession, but Las Vegas is now in the midst of a full-speed tourism recovery, suggests new third-quarter data released yesterday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

Through the third quarter of 2011, the data show, Las Vegas has experienced 19 consecutive months of growth in visitor volume and average daily room rate (ADR). Occupancy at Las Vegas hotels, meanwhile, has increased by more than four points to 85.2 percent — more than 20 points ahead of the national average.

Also up in Las Vegas is tourism-related employment: Today, LVCVA reports, the tourism industry directly employs 263,300 residents of Southern Nevada. Further, since November 2009, 15,800 jobs have been generated by the industry, boosting sector employment by 6.4 percent.

Based on the strength of those numbers, Las Vegas officials forecast that Sin City's visitor totals will reach 39 million this year for only the second time in history.

"After a year and a half of steady growth, we can say with confidence the tourism industry in Las Vegas is in recovery," said Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, who serves as chairman of the LVCVA. "We expect the growth we have seen to continue in 2012."

Due to the strength of the tourism economy, the LVCVA has developed a three-year business plan that outlines aggressive strategies to further expand the Las Vegas tourism industry by targeting key market segments — specifically international and business travel. Known as the "Destination Innovation and Leadership Plan," it includes a commitment to double sales, public relations and marketing efforts overseas, targeting Brazil and China for their strong emerging economies and the growing spending power of their middle classes. International travelers, who typically stay longer and spend more than domestic travelers, represent the largest potential growth market for Las Vegas. Currently, they make up 18 percent of overall visitation; the goal is to increase that number to 30 percent over the next decade.

The plan also calls for launching comprehensive travel research in the major international markets of Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, and the emerging market of Brazil; increasing airline lift by hosting prominent industry events such as Interline 2012 and Routes 2013; launching consumer advertising campaigns in additional international markets; and leveraging tourism industry leadership positions to influence travel policy.

"The economic conditions over the past three years required a flexible marketing strategy that could be adjusted as frequently as week-to-week; however, with the recovery having taken hold, we can now return to long-term strategy development," said LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter. "The overall strength of the Las Vegas tourism industry provides the opportunity to develop new markets and invest in our facilities."