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Las Vegas hits record 42 million visitors in 2015, even before New Year's Eve crowds

Las Vegas hits record 42 million visitors in 2015, even before New Year's Eve crowds
California license plates are common along the Las Vegas Strip, with more than 44,000 cars crossing the state line on I-15 every day during 2015. (Las Vegas News Bureau)

With New Year's Eve, one of the biggest tourist draws of the year, still to come, Las Vegas has already shattered a visitation record set just one year ago.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced Wednesday morning that the number of visitors during 2015 has topped 42 million. So if Sin City seems a little more crowded than usual, it really is.

That figure is 900,000 higher than last year's total of 41.1 million visitors. The year 2014 also set a record, since it was the first year during which more than 40 million people traveled to Vegas.

Tourism officials point to luxury resorts – plus world-class dining, entertainment and shopping in the gambling city – as reasons for the continuing growth.

Southern California remains a key to Sin City's success. More than 44,000 cars have crossed the California-Nevada state line at Primm each day this year. That figure is about 2,000 cars a day higher than in 2014.

While tourism remains the biggest draw, convention business climbed significantly during 2015, surpassing the 2014 total during November.

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Through last month, 5.7 million people had attended a convention in Vegas. The 2014 total for the full year was 5.2 million.

Year on year, the cost of a room is up slightly ($130) on the Strip and a little lower ($61) downtown. Room occupancy rates – 90.2% on the Strip and 80.1% downtown – are figures about which hoteliers in other cities can only fantasize.

Many resorts are at or near capacity for New Year's Eve, when an estimated 340,000 people are expected to gather to welcome 2016.

Tourism is the economic engine of the Las Vegas Valley, generating more than $50 billion annually. Supporting 366,000 jobs, tourism accounts for 43% of southern Nevada's total employment.

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