Monday, February 8, 2010

Recovery: Are We There Yet?

I know, I know. Tonight may be a little scary. After all, the "State of the State Address" will be on and we have to hear from "Luv-Guv Gibbons" one more time advancing stupid excuses for "policy" to fill the latest record busting budget deficit. I'm sure real, sensible ideas like making the mining industry pay its fair share won't be on his agenda.


Well, at least there seems to be some good news down here. Early indicators are pointing to a good February (and perhaps good rest of 2010?) for Las Vegas.

Gamblers are in town for the Super Bowl; over the Presidents Day three-day weekend, lovebirds will flock in for Valentine’s Day weddings on the same day that revelers will celebrate the Chinese New Year; wholesale clothing buyers will pack up for the mammoth MAGIC apparel trade show Feb. 16 to 19; and racing enthusiasts will drive in for NASCAR Weekend Feb. 27-28.

And let’s not forget the USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament and Fan Festival on Feb. 13 to 14, an event previously held in San Diego but now finding a home at Sam Boyd Stadium, with fans flying in from New Zealand, Australia and Kenya.

The convergence of these events, and more, is expected to draw more than 350,000 tourists to town — just a fraction compared with the Februarys of healthier years but still a heartening number after 15 consecutive months of year-over-year percentage declines that finally ended in September.

According to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority data, September, October and November showed slight percentage increases in visitors. Anecdotally, December and January, which haven’t been totaled, were strong. That means February could be the month that analysts can affirm that a trend is under way. [...]

“If you get a good start with the Super Bowl, you can keep the momentum,” [Las Vegas Adviser's Anthony] Curtis said. “Often when things are good, they snowball. But if they’re bad, they’ll snowball as well. I think the last good Super Bowl weekend we had was in 2006. It went down in 2007 and it foreshadowed everything that happened. It was a great leading indicator.”

So perhaps folks like Steve Wynn can stop saying stupid things about President Obama and get back to business? It seems there are signs of recovery out here.

Again, I know we've talked about this before. Unemployment is still too high. We've yet to see a trend of positive GDP growth. And as I hinted at above, the state has yet to see the additional tax revenue we badly need.

But if the numbers aren't lying and visitors really are trickling back to Vegas to spend some cash and have a good time with us, then perhaps the worst is finally over.

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