Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Visit Las Vegas in 2015? Count yourself among the more than 42 million people traveling to the casino corridor last year, according to the resort’s biggest travel booster.
It’s a number that breaks 2014’s record visitation of 41.1 million based on estimates from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
How do they know? The public agency’s lead researcher isn’t saying how the widely publicized number is calculated. The method is proprietary and the information competitive, said senior research manager Scott Russell. But he said the 40-year-old formula involves polling most casino-hotels directly and takes into account occupancy levels, travel habits and airline traffic among other indicators. It also tries to subtract out locals from the airline and freeway traffic figures to get a more accurate count of tourists.
“There is some secret sauce in what we do,” Russell said.
The team combs through data, looking for landmarks that might be eclipsed. They realized a couple months ago that the destination would handily overtake last year’s record, “but didn’t want to go out too far on that ledge,” until making the announcement just before the New Year.
But even though more people are visiting Las Vegas than ever, casinos still aren’t making as much money as they did during their pre-recession peak in 2007.
That’s when 39.2 million people visited, with 6.2 million of them attending conventions and 47.7 million people flying in and out of McCarran International Airport. Casinos kept $10.9 billion of what was gambled during the calendar year, the most ever, according to convention and visitors authority statistics stretching back to 1970.
In 2014, Las Vegas had 5.2 million convention-goers, 42.9 million airline passengers and casinos kept $9.5 billion from gambling.