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Tourism continues dramatic decline

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Written by editor

The sad state of the national economy is having a direct effect on the life-blood of Las Vegas: tourism.

The sad state of the national economy is having a direct effect on the life-blood of Las Vegas: tourism. New numbers show the biggest drop in visitors to our city since the months following the September 11 attacks. News 3’s Steve Crupi explains this double-digit decline.

The decline of tourists is just over 10 percent, which when it comes to people visiting Las Vegas, is almost unheard of. When tourism dropped after September 11, the town rebounded right away.

This time, however, things are different, and no one is predicting an instant recovery.

According to the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitor’s Authority, fewer visitors came here in September when compared to last year. But even the people who are still coming to Las Vegas have altered the way they use their money.

“We didn’t have a budget before,” explains one tourist. “Now we say, this is how much we can spend today.”

But there is a silver lining to the economic slide. Prices are plummeting and customers are getting air and hotel deals that haven’t been seen for decades. On Vegas.com, News 3 found rooms in Las Vegas next week for $80 at the MGM Grand, $58 at the Monte Carlo, $30 at the Sahara, $27 at the Texas Station, and just $13 per night in Primm at Whiskey Pete’s.

Even the most luxurious of properties are desperately in need of customers. At the Trump Tower, you can get a suite for $138 and they’ll also throw in a $50 credit for use at the restaurant or spa.

“Even if the economy is the way it is, we needed a correction,” says one tourist.

A correction is one thing, but a prolonged slump is another. The results for the month of October are being tabulated – and those could be even worse.

For a while, business in Las Vegas was being propped up by the huge number of international visitors coming here because the dollar was so cheap. But now with the recession hitting the rest of the world as well, the number of overseas customers is dramatically declining.

Casino winnings have been down all year, and the latest numbers from September show the continued slide. Statewide, the Gaming Control Board says winnings were down 5.4 percent when compared to September 2007.

It is the ninth consecutive month of decline. But there is a bright spot: winnings for North Las Vegas casinos rose 11 percent in September.