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Las Vegas Barometer


Las Vegas Tourism Barometer

The Las Vegas Tourism Barometer developed at Arizona State University is an aggregate measure of the health of the travel and tourism industry in the Las Vegas megapolitan region. A Sun Corridor Tourism Barometer for the Arizona megapolitan region was the first of this kind. Northern California and Southern California Tourism Barometers followed. Barometers for 17 other United States megapolitan regions are being developed.

Las Vegas Tourism Barometer

The Las Vegas Tourism Barometer showed consistent growth from an average of 86.0 in 1990 to a value of 123.6 in January 2001. The index dropped to a five-year low point of 110.6 in October 2001. After this drop the index grew to its historic high of 134.4 in December 2007. The index declined to 126.6 in April 2009.

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The Las Vegas Megapolitan Area

The Las Vegas megapolitan region is one of twenty megapolitan areas in the United States defined as areas that combine several metropolitan areas and expected to be the predominant geographic units for region planning in the future. These areas tie together cities, towns and counties with broader relationships among them, such as goods movement, business linkages, cultural commonality, and physical environments. Megapolitan regions are a growing force in globalization and drive the integration of continental economies into the increasingly integrated world economy. Travel and tourism is fundamental to this integration and barometers that capture the monthly trends in this industry will be important measurement tools.

The Las Vegas megapolitan region includes two Nevada counties: Clark and Nye and one Arizona County: Mohave.

This and all Megapolitan regions were defined by researchers at Virginia Tech in collaboration with Brookings Institute


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Construction of the Barometer

The Las Vegas Tourism Barometer was developed at Arizona State University in the Megapolitan Tourism Research Center. It is the fourth tourism Barometer, the first being a barometer for the “Sun Corridor” in Arizona. The methodologies are the same for all barometers. They are meant to give a current, deseasonalized monthly picture of the status of the industry. They each provide an index derived from four equally weighted, seasonally adjusted indicators that capture different aspects of tourism activity. Together these indicators capture trends in four very diverse tourism-related components: jobs, transportation capacity, outdoor recreational activity, and international visitation. The reference point of 100 is set at June 1994 is reported on a monthly basis. The four indicators are:

  • Non-resident Arrivals to the United States: to capture the trend in international component of area tourism through national visitation;
  • National Park Visitation in the Region reported by the National Park Service: to reflect changes in the outdoor recreational activities in the megapolitan area;
  • Hospitality and Leisure Employment in the Region: to provide a measure of the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food service  impacts of tourism; and
  • Scheduled Air Carrier Landings as reported by the FAA: to capture trends in air transportation.
  • These four variables were chosen because they each give a different perspective of the tourism industry, they are reported promptly, they are available monthly and they are available for most if not all counties is the megapolitan regions. Recreational visits to Lake Mead, Grand Canyon and Pipe Spring are included in the regional counts. Hospitality and leisure employment is added for three counties in the region. Commercial aircraft landings are added for two airports: LAS and IFP.

    Each of the four monthly series is deseasonalized using an X-12, ARIMA seasonal adjustment procedure that includes special treatment for outliers such as the dramatic changes in September 2001. Seasonal adjustment of the data eliminates the annual calendar patterns due to climate, vacations and business cycles.  The entire data series are re-adjusted each time new data points are added (or old data points are corrected) to ensure that any new trends and patterns are fully-captured in the seasonal adjustment process. This means that the series of values may change slightly each month. The entire revised series is posted as an Excel file.

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    Historical Behavior of the Barometer

    Graphs of the four components of the barometer illustrate their contributions to its overall trend.  Seasonally adjusted commercial air carrier landings reached a highpoint in January 2000 and varied near that level until mid 2003 when growth resumed, hitting a historical high point of 34,900 in the last months of 2007. Seasonally adjusted landings declined to almost 30,000 at the end of 2008 but have shown consistent modest growth through April 2009. After reaching their peak of nearly 1.2 million visits in the summer of 1995, seasonally adjusted National Park Visits in the Las Vegas region declined gradually to a very stable level near 1.0 million visits where it is currently. Seasonally adjusted leisure and hospitality employment have shown steady growth over most of the period, suffering only a 4% drop in October 2001. The historic high point of 281,000 seasonally adjusted jobs was reached in December 2007. Since then it has shown a constant decline 262,000 in April 2009. Seasonally adjusted international arrivals to the United States showed very strong growth since their low point in October 2001 reaching a record high level in May 2008 and remaining near that level through August 2008. Since then seasonally adjusted international arrivals have declined over 12%.


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    Las Vegas Landings

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    Las Vegas Visits

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    Las Vegas Employment

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    Las Vegas Arrivals

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