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Vegas Visitors Spending Less, Staying in Cheaper Hotels

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released a report that showed visitors to Sin City are spending less on food, gambling and shows, and also paying about 22 percent less at hotels. Not really surprising when you realize that Vegas is ground zero for the travel industry's recession and has ranked its hotels as the nation's cheapest -- with an average daily rate of $79, about $40 to $50 less than Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.

As airfare costs rise, hotels can only drop prices to entice visitors -- an unfair deal, but one that nevertheless has become standard. And if anyone could, wouldn't they also want to spend less and stay in cheaper (but not less quality) hotels?

From the report:

-- Hotel rooms not booked as part of a package cost on average $75.78 per day in 2009, down from $101.68 in 2008 -- and down from between about $107 and $109 when the economy was booming in 2006 and 2007. The actual cost for hotel rooms booked by all means averaged $92.93 in 2009, down from $119.19 in 2008, the LVCVA has reported separately.

-- Average spending on food and drink per trip in 2009 was $250.32, down from $273.39 in 2008.

-- Average spending on shopping per trip to Las Vegas in 2009 was $101.97, down from $121.90 in 2008.

-- Eighty-three percent of visitors gambled in 2009, a five-year low and down from 85 percent in 2008. Of those gambling, they had an average gambling budget of $481.57, down from $531.98 in 2008 and well off the recent peak of $651.94 in 2006.

-- Sixty-four percent of visitors attended shows in 2009, down from 72 percent in 2008. On a per-trip basis, visitors spent on average $39.87 for shows, down from $51.64 in 2008.

Because Las Vegas has been called a budget destination, they should embrace the label and advertise it as such. I know that won't be easy for new luxury hotels like Aria, Vdara and Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas to swallow -- which is OK, since their competitive prices are stealing away guests from mid-range hotels -- and they wouldn't appeal to budget travelers anyway.

Las Vegas used to be famous as a destination with $49 hotels rooms, $4.99 steak dinners, and people gambling away hundreds of dollars. It never used to be about shows, clubs, $10,000 suites and $1,000 bottles of Grey Goose vodka. It may just be that Las Vegas is finally returning to its roots.

Photo: via James Marvin Phelps (mandj98)