Nevadas hot streak continues as another arrivals record falls

Buoyed by the attractions of Las Vegas and a rise in convention business, Nevada tourism produced another record year in 2005 with nearly 51.6 million visitors, according to the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Setting a record is good news, of course, but its also notable that Nevada only managed an increase in visitor arrivals of less than 1%, which is not the best news for a state that considers tourism its top industry.

In Las Vegas, which accounts for 75% or more of the states tourism economy by some measures, arrivals grew in the 3% to 4% range, but that gain was offset by static numbers or declines elsewhere in the state.

Nevada got a boost from the meetings and convention trade, which sent 7 million convention delegates to the state last year, a 5% increase.

The convention business continues to grow in importance. It has risen nearly 10% over the past two years, accounting for 13.5% of visitors last year, up from 13.1% in 2003.

A month-by-month glance at the visitor totals confirms that Nevada tourism is -- like its chief attraction -- pretty much always on. The seasonal peaks and valleys are pretty flat as these things go, except for a slight drop-off between November and February.

And, of course, gaming still rules. Gaming receipts rose 10.2% last year, generating $11.6 billion in revenue, or nearly 30% of the states $40 billion tourism industry, according to the commission.

The Silver State ended the year with a lodging inventory of 179,989 hotel and motel rooms, a very modest rise of 0.2% over 2004.

Statewide occupancy, driven by Las Vegas, rose 0.3 points and averaged 84.3% in 2005. It was at or above 85% for seven months of the year.

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