Although mayors across the country for months have been paying lip service to concerns about the fast-rising cost of gas and its effect on their constituents, most are not really all that concerned, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said at his July 3 news conference.
The reason: an increasing reliance on mass transit.
Goodman, who said he heard this at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting held in Miami last month, noted that indeed, bus ridership was up in Las Vegas, too, which he termed “a residual good.”
But Vegas is being hurt by high gas prices much more than other cities because the cost is decreasing tourism, he said.
Specifically, in the first four months of 2008, compared with that period last year, there’s been a drop in the number of visitors driving in from Southern California. Southern Californians typically make up between one-quarter and one-third of the region’s visitors.
Statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show that while the overall number of visitors to the region was off almost imperceptibly in the first four months of the year, the number of vehicles coming from SoCal dropped by 5 percent from a year earlier.
According to LVCVA Research Director Kevin Bagger, the daily average number of vehicles coming from California to Nevada along Interstate-15 dropped from about 37,500 to 35,700. Those vehicles carried residents, visitors and commercial goods, he said.
Just as significantly, Bagger said, gaming revenue was down during that period, by 3.7 percent.
“This just emphasized for me how different Las Vegas is,” Goodman said.