Travel Weekly's Las Vegas E-letter: May 13, 2008

THE NUMBER OF VISITORS to Las Vegas declined by 1% in March, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the largest drop in more than a year. Despite hosting the largest 2008 convention in North America in March, (CONEXPO-CON/AGG, a construction industry-focused show that brought in an estimated 144,600 attendees), Las Vegas convention attendance was down 6.6% for the month and the average daily room rate fell .8%, to $135.11. On a positive note, the average daily room rate and total occupancy level of 92.2% were the highest since October, and traffic on major highways leading to Las Vegas was up 0.5%, the first year-over-year increase since October. The total number of passengers traveling through Las Vegas' McCarran Airport in March was down 1.7%.

GAMING REVENUES on the Las Vegas Strip sunk nearly 5% for the month of March, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, marking the third straight month that revenues have fallen. The Las Vegas Strip hasn't seen three consecutive months of declining gaming revenues in nearly seven years. Gaming revenues on the Strip totaled roughly $517 million for the month, the lowest March numbers in three years. Total March gaming revenues for the state of Nevada were off more than 15% from government projections.

THE MAJOR Las Vegas corporations reported their first quarter earnings last week, and the numbers were down across the board. Harrah's Entertainment posted a loss of $187.8 million, compared with a $185.3 million profit in first-quarter 2007. Boyd Gaming Corp. reported a $32.6 million loss, compared with a $35.1 million gain a year ago. Las Vegas Sands Corp. lost $11.2 million in the first quarter of 2008, compared with a $90.9 million profit in first-quarter 2007. First-quarter net income at MGM Mirage was down 30%, to $118.3 million. Wynn Resorts Ltd. reported first-quarter earnings of $46.7 million, down 20%.

ON THE MEETINGS FRONT, Steve Wynn announced plans last week to add more than 1.6 million square feet of meeting and convention space on Wynn Las Vegas' golf course. The facility will include two new hotels with approximately 2,600 rooms each, both integrated with the new convention space, including free underground trams to transport guests between the hotels and the meeting facilities. "This meeting and convention space will resemble no other meeting and convention space anywhere else on earth," Wynn said. "It will be very glamorous and will also offer our clients an environment that has heretofore been unavailable." No start date was given for the project.

THE MANDALAY BAY Convention Center said last week that since September of last year the facility has been able to recycle 74% of all trade show waste leaving the convention center. Even the program's biggest proponents have been impressed. "We knew our efforts could make a contribution to the recycling effort in Las Vegas," said Martie Sparks, Mandalay Bay vice president of catering and convention services, "but we had no idea how significant that contribution would be."

Las Vegas Editor: Dean Blaine
(650) 348-1752
[email protected] 
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