LAS VEGAS -- Being the city with no memory has its advantages in
light of what was a very forgettable year in 2001.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has the
numbers for the year, and they're not pretty. It was a rough year
across the board for tourism here, as visitors, gaming revenue and
hotel occupancy all declined.
"Yes, we saw dramatic declines in visitor numbers," said Terry
Jacinsky, research manager for the LVCVA. "But all numbers
[throughout the industry] are off, and relatively -- at the very
least -- we aren't losing market share to other destinations."
How bad was 2001? The 2.3% drop in visitors marked the first
time visitor numbers had declined in Las Vegas since 1982. In
addition, gaming revenues in Clark County declined for the first
time since the Nevada Gaming Control Board started keeping those
statistics in 1970.
Jacinsky attributed the slide to the slumping U.S. economy (even
before Sept. 11, the LVCVA had scaled back its visitors forecast)
and the reduced demand for air travel after Sept. 11. However, he
said Las Vegas already is seeing a recovery.
Although the year closed with four consecutive months of visitor
declines, Jacinsky said the year-over-year visitors gap is
September 2001 saw a 14% decrease compared with 2000, while
October and November were down 8%; December, 6%; and January,
"Actually, from a trend standpoint, we're seeing early
indications of a turnaround," Jacinsky said. "Las Vegas continues
to be one of the few destinations that has rebounded relatively
quickly from Sept. 11."
One area that remained strong for the year was the meetings and
conventions sector, which saw an increase in both convention
delegates and spending in 2001.
"We were off to such a strong start for the year on the meetings
side that even the last four months weren't bad enough to impact
those numbers," Jacinsky said.
To keep the meetings segment strong, the LVCVA launched a
"convention attendance-retention campaign" aimed at prospective
meetings and convention attendees. The LVCVA produced and mailed
more than 1.1 million "registration reminder" postcards to
potential delegates. The postcards also directed them to the LVCVA
Web site, at www.vegasfreedom.com.
Meanwhile, from a gaming perspective, 2002 didn't get off to a
good start on the Strip. January figures were down 23.9% for the
However, both the Super Bowl and the Chinese New Year were in
February this year instead of January, the LVCVA pointed out.
And what's the outlook for the remainder of 2002?
Jacinsky said the LVCVA will not make forecasts for 2002 until
more data is available later in the year.