Record number of convention visitors helps boost Vegas tourism spending

Joe Cavaretta / AP

This file photo shows the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

A record number of convention visitors in 2017 helped Las Vegas bring in $58.8 billion in total spending tied to tourism, according to an economic report.

The 42.2 million visitors to Las Vegas last year, including 6.6 million conventioneers, accounted for $34.8 billion in direct spending, according to Jeremy Aguero, principal at Applied Analysis, who Tuesday presented the economic benefit report for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The average visitor in 2017 accounted for $824 in direct spending, which is money spent at hotels, restaurants, on transportation and shopping among other expenditures.

The report indicates $10.1 billion on indirect spending, or money spent by tourism suppliers or vendors. Also, $13.8 billion was spent by workers in the tourism industry whose jobs benefit from visitor spending.

Las Vegas continues to benefit from tourism more than other similar-size cities that relies on a single industry, Aguero said.

“Tourism means more to Southern Nevada than entertainment means to Los Angeles, than aerospace means to Seattle or auto manufacturing means to Detroit,” he said. “That is usually by a relatively wide margin.”

Tourism employed one in every four workers in Southern Nevada in 2017, with a total employment base supported by tourism of 391,400, or 41.1 percent of Southern Nevada’s 951,400 total employment figure, according to the report. Total salaries and wages paid to those workers was $16.4 billion last year, making up 36.2 percent of the region’s $45.3 billion in salaries and wages.

The 6.6 million conventioneers accounted for one in every six Las Vegas visitors. The record number was a 5.3 percent increase over 2016. Those convention visitors generated $9.8 billion in total economic benefit, according to the report.

Businesses and communities outside the tourism corridor benefit as well.

“Also, all our individual neighborhoods,” Aguero said. “Those expenditures go into suppliers that provide everything from bed sheets, casino chips, down to architectural services. They flow into our neighborhoods, into every restaurant, doctor's office, grocery store and movie theater.”