LAS VEGAS -- More tourists will visit Las Vegas and local businesses will start hiring again. That's what UNLV economists are predicting for the upcoming year.
Economic experts gathered at UNLV Tuesday to take a hard look at the U.S. and Nevada economies. It's expected an additional 1.6 million people will visit Las Vegas next year. That would represent a five percent increase. However, more of the tourists will be from farther away states and countries and they will spend less on gambling.
"I think the first few times, it was more just gambling, gambling, gambling, but now it's more of let's see shows, let's go look at the sites, let's do different things besides sit at one casino for four hours throwing money away," said Ben Hernandez who is visiting from Corpus Christi, Texas.
Traditionally, many of the tourists visiting Las Vegas have driven from Southern California to gamble but those numbers are down due to the economy. The newer visitor will be looking to experience other things the city has to offer.
"I think gaming has kind of reached its saturation point, and so what we're looking at, is what else can we do here in Las Vegas in terms of tourism?" said Stephen Brown, UNLV's Center for Business & Economic Research.
He says the the business model has to transition from gaming-focused to event and convention-focused. The marathon, NFR, New Year's Eve, NASCAR, and CES bring in hundreds of thousands of people who will eat, sleep, drink, see shows, walk the Strip and maybe gamble.
As the U.S. economy rebounds, the economists says business confidence will grow and local companies will start making money and hiring again.