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LAS VEGAS-Slightly more than three million visitors in December pushed the year-end total to 39.2 million, up 0.7% from 38.9 million in 2006, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Also Tuesday, the state Gaming Control Board released gaming win data for December, showing that gamblers lost $614.8 million on the Strip in December, bringing the calendar-year total to $6.82 billion, a 2.3% increase from $6.68 billion in 2006.

Both year-end totals set new records. Moreover, the records are expected to be eclipsed again this year given that 9,000 new hotel rooms and multiple new casinos are slated to be added to the local inventory this year, most of them on the Strip.

The LVCVA’s executive summary also shows that average hotel occupancy ended the year at 90.4%, a 0.7% increase from 89.7% in 2006, matching its all-time high set in 1996, according to the LVCVA. Room rates rose 10.3% to $132.09 in 2007 from $119.73 in 2006. Given the glut of new hotel rooms expected, record occupancy is not expected for 2008.

The LVCVA’s executive summary also shows that convention attendance in 2007 fell 1.6% to 6.2 million from 6.3 million in 2006, while the number of conventions grew by 0.1% to 23,847 from 23,825 in 2006. Despite the drop in attendance, the LVCVA estimates the total economic impact of the conventions grew 3.3% to $8.45 billion from $8.18 billion in 2006.

The LVCVA is charged with marketing Southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide, and also with operating the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center. Whole visitation was up in Las Vegas, it was down 6.8% in Laughlin to 3.1 million from 3.3 million in 2006. Hotel occupancy there fell to 71.7% from 74.2% in 2006 and the average daily room rate rose 8.5% to $41.92 from $38.63 in 2006.

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