The absence of the National Finals Rodeo in December, sharp decline in drive-in traffic from California amid broader restrictions due to the coronavirus took their toll on Las Vegas visitor numbers that fell by 64% compared to December 2019. There were only 1.24 million visitors and the month’s hotel occupancy came in at 31%.
That’s a steeper drop in visitor volume that had been running in the 50% range over many months since the reopening of casinos in June when the visitor volume dropped 70.5% compared to June 2019 with nearly 1.1 million visitors. The National Finals Rodeo relocated to the Dallas area for one year because of restrictions in place to deal with COVID-19. Visitor volume fell more than 17% between November and December.
The visitor volume was down 57% in November year-over-year with 1. 5 million people and down 49% in October year-over-year with 1.86 million visitors. For 2020, Las Vegas hosted a little more than 19 million people, a decline of 55% from 2019 when there were 42.5 million visitors.
McCarran International Airport has yet to release its flight visitor volume for December but drive-in traffic from California is down sharply. The average daily traffic on the I-15 at the California border was 42,000, a decline of more than 17.7% from December 2019 and 14.4% from November. Traffic at all major highways is down 8% from November and 10% from December 2019.
The total hotel room occupancy was 30.9% in December, a drop from 39.3% in November. December is one of the weakest months of the year, and the occupancy was 85.1% in December 2019.
Weekend occupancy in December was 45.4% compared to 25% midweek, providing the reason for some properties to shutter their hotel towers Monday through Thursday.
Despite the decline in visitation, the average daily rates among open properties reached $100 in December, which was up 6.5% from November but down 20 percent from December 2019 when it was $125, according to the LVCVA. The Strip occupancy was 30.8% with the average daily room rate of $107, a nearly 7 percent increase over November and 21.4% from December 2019 when it was $136.
Downtown occupancy was 25.9% with the average daily rate approaching $67, a 9.2% increase over November. It was only 1.1% behind December 2019 when it was $67.53.