Inflation impacting recent Las Vegas tourism numbers and spending, UNLV researchers say

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 11:59 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Millions of Americans have been tightening their wallets due to inflation, and Las Vegas researchers now have proof to show how it has affected tourism and visitor spending.

UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research released its Economic Outlook study for 2022 through 2024 and notes that the Las Vegas economy started to stall in June of this year.

Researchers utilize a metric called Clark County Tourism Index, measuring visitors, Clark County gross gaming revenue, the Las Vegas hotel/motel occupancy rate, and total passengers at Harry Reid International Airport. After a post-lockdown surge and recovery, Las Vegas has seen several months of decline.

“Interest rates have gone up. And we know that we know that prices are going up as well. And that’s what the Fed is trying to get their hands around and solve. So it may be that the Fed’s policies is having an effect not only nationally, but it’s also affecting our economy locally,” said Professor Stephen Miller, one of the authors of the study.

“Visitors: maybe you’re thinking about coming here. Maybe you’ve changed your mind,” Miller said.

Though Harry Reid International Airport reported banner visitor numbers of over 5 million people for October alone, the report takes into account what’s called seasonally adjusted numbers, which analyze travel trends without holiday spikes. Adjusted numbers reflect several months of decreasing visitors, Miller said.

An anomaly to the trend, defying economic logic? Gaming gains. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has reported 20 straight months of $1 billion of revenue. The surge of sporting events and sports betting may be a contributing factor, Miller said.

The report notes, in the event of a recession hitting the U.S. and Las Vegas in 2023, major events such as Formula One and the Super Bowl will be helpful to inject a surge of visitors during normally slower tourism months.

Holiday spending could reverse the downward trajectory, Miller said. Other unknown factors that could impact tourism in 2023 and beyond include the effects of the nation’s current flu and RSV surge, this winter, as well as another possible COVID-19 surge.