Las Vegas continues to welcome gamblers, leisure travelers, and convention attendees back to Southern Nevada in the aftermath of COVID-19.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) reports that more than 3.35 million people traveled to Southern Nevada in September. That’s 39% higher than the approximately 2.93 million people who ventured to Sin City in September 2021.
September 2022 also brought Las Vegas within 4% of its 2019 numbers. The casino hub attracted 3.47 million travelers in September 2019.
There are a lot of indicators that suggest we are going in the right direction,” Lisa Messina, chief sales officer for the LVCVA, commented to Nevada Business.
Though some state gaming markets have experienced slight demand softening in recent weeks and months with record inflation and an unsteady stock market delaying or canceling some trips, the return of in-person conventions and trade shows have kept many of Las Vegas’ more than 150K hotel guest rooms occupied.
Air Travel Sky High
Wall Street worries and the elevated costs of everyday living because of inflation are keeping some visitors from venturing to Las Vegas. A considerable portion of that demographic is thought to be drive-in traffic that primarily originates from Southern California.
While overall visitation remains slightly below 2019 levels, the city’s international airport is busier than ever. Harry Reid International experienced its busiest three-month period ever from June through August 2022.
September was another hectic month for the Las Vegas airport. The facility reported Monday that more than 4.75 million passengers departed or arrived at Harry Reid International in September — 26% more than a year ago and 10% more than in September 2019.
Southwest is Las Vegas’ largest commercial airliner. The carrier accounted for about 1.6 million passengers in September 2022. Spirit was a distant second at 707,041 passengers.
Though LAS is an international airport, the bulk of its passengers arrive from, or are departing to, domestic locations. Domestic flights represented 4.4 million passengers during the month — or almost 93% of the traffic.
Convention Sector Makes Gains
Convention attendance in September totaled 372,600 people, a 21% year-over-year improvement. But meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) visitor volume has a way to go before returning to pre-pandemic levels. In September 2019, approximately 460K business travelers arrived in Southern Nevada with the primary purpose of attending a meeting or exhibition.
Messina says MICE organizers and business leaders continue to plan large-scale events in Las Vegas.
People are looking at the greater macroeconomics that impact travel and conventions and people are optimistic,” Messina said. “Where we thrive as an industry are those in-person marketplaces that you can’t get anywhere else. The networking, the learning, the education — that is what meetings and events are.”
In October, the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) hosted its first full-scale, in-person convention since the pandemic at The Venetian Expo. More than 25K people attended the gaming industry gathering. LasVegas also hosted numerous other meaningful conventions last month, including IMEX America, EXPCON 2022, and the Evolve Business Technology Conference.
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