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Fewer people are visiting Las Vegas. One insider thinks hotel resort and parking fees are to blame

Fewer people are visiting Las Vegas. One insider thinks hotel resort and parking fees are to blame
The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino west of the Strip is the latest property to increase its resort fee. The charge rose $2 to $32 on Tuesday. (Jay Jones)

Daily resort fees and parking charges are rising and spreading in Las Vegas, adding as much as $45 a day to visitors' hotel bills. The publisher of Las Vegas Advisor blames the extra charges for a recent decline in the number of visitors.

"Everyone hates resort fees, but the parking [fee] is even worse," said Anthony Curtis of Las Vegas Advisor. "Everyone wants some kind of comp, [and] the most basic comp is free parking. That was the one comp that everyone got."

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Anthony Curtis, publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, believes rising charges for parking and resort fees are to blame for a decline in the number of people visiting Las Vegas.
Anthony Curtis, publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, believes rising charges for parking and resort fees are to blame for a decline in the number of people visiting Las Vegas. (Courtesy of Anthony Curtis)

The Advisor, a decades-old, monthly newsletter highlighting what's new in Vegas and featuring deals for visitors, provides lists of parking costs and resort fees across southern Nevada.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority disputed that fees have contributed to the most recent declines in visitors.

"We have no information that ties any reaction to various fees to a reduction in visitation," Jeremy Handel, senior director of communications, said in an email.

The 10-month decline "is primarily attributed to the reduction in room inventory due to renovations and upgrades at various properties, and a near-term impact from the tragic events of 1 October," Handel said.

Fifty-eight people were killed in a shooting rampage during a country music festival along the Strip in October.

After setting a record high in 2016, tourism in Las Vegas is declining a bit. A local newsletter publisher says people are getting more and more fed up with add-on fees that hotels charge.
After setting a record high in 2016, tourism in Las Vegas is declining a bit. A local newsletter publisher says people are getting more and more fed up with add-on fees that hotels charge. (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Resort fees typically cover in-room Wi-Fi and local phone calls as well as access to fitness centers and swimming pools. Of course, the fee is charged whether or not you use the amenities.

For those unaware of the latest dings to your wallet, here's a roundup:

  • The resort fee at Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino climbed $2 a night to $32, effective Tuesday.

  • Forget trying to escape fees by staying in downtown Las Vegas. Most of the big hotels along or near Fremont Street now charge resort fees. The latest to hop on the bandwagon is Boyd Gaming, which introduced a $14.99 per night charge at its three downtown properties – California, Fremont and Main Street Station -- on April 1.

Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, a popular and stylish outlet mall in downtown Las Vegas, began charging for parking on April 1.
Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, a popular and stylish outlet mall in downtown Las Vegas, began charging for parking on April 1. (Jay Jones)

Curtis said his readers are increasingly incensed by fees that can considerably add to the cost of a trip.

"I'm telling you, the customers hate it. They get madder and madder," he said.

Visitors to Las Vegas Premium Outlets North must now pay $5 to park.
Visitors to Las Vegas Premium Outlets North must now pay $5 to park. (Jay Jones)

To support his claim, Curtis cited a January poll in his newsletter that asked readers what they thought of paying to park. More than two-thirds of the 1,763 respondents said they opposed the relatively new charges.

Visits to Vegas has dropped in each of the last 10 months, a fact that Curtis attributes to the frustration with fees.

"I really do think that these fees are starting to cause people to second-think a trip here," he said.

Figures from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show that in March, the most recent month for which statistics were available, visitor volume dropped less than 1% over March 2017. That's a decline of 34,100 visitors.

"That stops a juggernaut of visitation that has been rising and rising and rising … coming out of the recession," Curtis said.

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The annual visitor count hit a record high in 2016: 42,936,100. Last year's total – 42,214,200 – was down 1%. While that may appear insignificant, that signifies a drop of 722,000 visitors.

MGM Resorts, the first hotel-casino owner to implement parking fees, had no comment on a link between fees and visitor volume. Caesars Entertainment, the other major player along Las Vegas Boulevard, did not respond to a request for comment.

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