Jackpot! Las Vegas attracted record number of visitors in 2012

Julie Jacobson / Today
Rodrigo Gonsalez waits for tourists to pose with him for photos as he plays Elvis along the Las Vegas Strip. A record 39.7 million people visited Las Vegas in 2012.

Sin City cashed in last year with a record 39.7 million visitors, and tourism officials are optimistic that the mark won’t stand for long.

About 500,000 more people visited Las Vegas in 2012 than in 2007, the previous record-setting year, according to figures released Friday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). The record visitation translated into more than $40 billion for the local economy, the organization said.

The increase was brought about by “a combination of the economy getting marginally better and room rates remaining very low,” said Anthony Curtis, president of, an online newsletter. “Room rates are still below the figures from four years ago.”

Breaking 40 million
“Las Vegas is well positioned for continued growth in 2013 and on the threshold of hosting more than 40 million visitors,” Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Visitors can expect some new attractions, the most noteworthy being Caesars Entertainment’s $550 milion Linq retail/entertainment project, expected to open late this year.

But Curtis said the city has two things going for it: sizzle and value.

He defines sizzle as young people visiting for the clubs, pools, etc. “That’s not going away.”

And Vegas remains a value bet. Visitors can stay in rooms that can be two or three times more in other locations, Curtis said.

He also expects more than 40 million visitors next year, barring another economic disaster. But will they spend?

“More people are coming, but they’re spending less,” he said. “They’re still hoarding. They’re still keeping their cash close to their vest.”