As a travel agent I love having the opportunity to promote destinations that I really think everybody should visit. One of those destinations is Las Vegas. My first visit to Las Vegas was in November 2007 and it is a place I would love to go back to again. If you are thinking of visiting Las Vegas, planning a holiday to Las Vegas or if you are a travel agent looking for information then I have a fantastic article here for you to read!
Russell Meara, UK Senior Sales and Marketing Manager for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau very kindly agreed to an e-mail interview with me about Las Vegas. He talks about what to see and do in Las Vegas, hotels in Las Vegas, attractions and shows in Las Vegas and things to see outside Las Vegas. See below for the interview which I think you will find very interesting.
Q1. How has the economic downturn affected the tourism industry as far as visitor numbers are concerned and the general tourism industry in Las Vegas ?
A The economic downturn is of course affecting Las Vegas and travel in general. It has definitely affected our visitor figures in the short term as our August 08 monthly figures have shown we are down by 4.3% year on year. In the long term however, we see the potential for massive growth especially in our international markets. Of the 39 million visitors who travelled to Las Vegas in 2007, international visitors accounted for 4.7 million or 12% – the UK accounted for approximately 500,000 of these – and by the end of the decade, the goal for Las Vegas is to attract an estimated 1.5 million additional annual international visitors.
Earlier this year the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) launched a new international brand marketing strategy that will expand Las Vegas’ global reach. From July 2008, the LVCVA partnered with 12 representative offices serving a total of 75 countries spanning the globe. The organization has enhanced its longstanding commitment to its existing eight international markets while establishing a first-ever presence in four additional countries.
We have established three distinct market segments, providing more focus and flexibility to achieve our objectives. Major markets include Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, which collectively account for 70 percent of overall international visitation to Las Vegas. Primary markets consist of the European Union, Ireland, Japan and South Korea, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Emerging markets consist of China, Brazil/South America, Russia/Eastern Europe and India, and represent new opportunities for Las Vegas.
Q2. Have any new hotels recently opened and are any new hotels planned to open ?
A One of the most fascinating aspects of Las Vegas is that it is a city that is constantly changing. In the next 18 months the city has more than $27 billion in projects under construction or in planning stages and it is safe to say that in 2009, visitors will see and experience more in Las Vegas than ever before.
Some highlights include the opening of The Palazzo in January 2009 which, when combined with the neighbouring Venetian and Sands Expo and Convention Centre, The Palazzo gives the company the largest hotel and convention complex in the world. The Trump International Hotel and Tower opened 31 March 2008. True to the brand’s form, the property reflects the “Ultra Luxury Trump Lifestyle” in every possible fashion. In 2009, the Fontainebleau Las Vegas is scheduled for a fall debut with a $2.9 billion, 63-story resort and condo-hotel with approximately 3,800 rooms.
Also in 2009, MGM MIRAGE will debut a 76-acre, $9.2 billion dollar “urban metropolis” called CityCentre. The 18 million-square foot project calls for a 57-story condo hotel with approximately 1,543 residences called Vdara. The project will also feature two residential high-rises known as Veer Towers that will feature 337 condo residences each. There will be a Mandarin Oriental featuring 400 hotel rooms and 227 exclusive residences, The Harmon Hotel,Spa & Residences with 207 condominium residences and 400 hotel rooms, and ARIA Resort & Casino, CityCenter’s 61-story, 4,000-room resort casino. The resort casino will feature approximately 300,000 square feet of technologically advanced meeting and convention space as well as an 1,850-seat showroom theatre, spa, fitness centre, salon and four large pools. Eighteen restaurants will serve a diverse range of cuisines and six bars and lounges, as well as a nightclub, will provide added entertainment. An automated transit system will connect CityCentre to Bellagio and Monte Carlo. CityCentre residences are now available for purchase.
Q3. Is there a best time to visit Las Vegas as far as the weather is concerned and is there a time of year when hotel rates are lowest?
A Las Vegas offers over 300 days of sunshine a year and boasts hot summers and slightly cooler winters. There really isn’t a bad time to visit, it just depends what you want! Hotel rates tend to vary from week to week – they are lower mid week and higher at weekends when domestic visitation is high. It is best to check before you book to see whether there are any large conventions or sporting events in town as these definitely affect hotel rates.
Q4. Apart from gambling in the casinos what else in Las Vegas can you recommend that the visitor does?
A Las Vegas really does have something for everybody. From the luxury resorts on the world famous strip, to fabulous shopping malls, chic restaurants with celebrity chefs, trendy elaborately themed nightclubs and the hottest headliners, there are so many options to keep everybody entertained! There are also world class golf courses, luxurious spas and plenty of scenic getaways out to the desert within easy driving distance of Las Vegas.
Q5. What are the best shows in Las Vegas in 2009?
A The legendary performer Cher now headlines at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace alongside Bette Midler who is also performing at Caesars Palace with a show called “The Showgirl Must Go On” featuring a 13-piece band and 20 female dancers.
“JERSEY BOYS“ the Tony Award-winning musical, opened at The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino this year and the Flamingo Las Vegas recently announced that Donny and Marie Osmond are the resort’s newest headliner.
Cirque du Soleil and Luxor have announced a new show featuring renowned illusionist Criss Angel. With the opening of CityCentre in 2009, Cirque du Soleil and Elvis Presley Enterprises will team with MGM MIRAGE to debut their next resident show in Las Vegas. Based on the life and music of the iconic performer Elvis Presley, the show will feature state-of-the-art technology and captivating visuals.
Q6. What attractions can you recommend that the tourist visits outside the city of Las Vegas that are within easy reach for a day trip or overnight stay?
A There is some amazing scenery in Nevada just a short drive from Las Vegas Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon is just 15 miles west and is scenic area of rock formations and desert popular with hikers, bikers, joggers and rock climbers.
Just a three hour drive north of Las Vegas, Pahrump serves as the eastern gateway to Death Valley National Park. As the hottest, driest and lowest of all the National Parks in the USA, Death Valley is a land of extremes. Extreme sports lovers will find adrenaline-pumping hiking and cycling trails in the region’s high-desert terrain, while history buffs can explore several ghost towns in the area deserted after the gold and copper dried up.
Journey 147 miles, approx a four hour drive north of Las Vegas and you will find the Extraterrestrial Highway (Highway 375) in Sand Spring Valley. Highway 375 stretches for 98 miles and the tiny town of Rachel is a popular stopping point for UFO fans hoping to learn more about the highway and the mysterious former military testing facility, Area 51.
After a six hour drive you will arrive at the small town of Fallon, located on U.S. Highway 50, which is also known as “The Loneliest Road in America”. This 287-mile stretch of road was given this nickname in the 80’s and it is said that drivers need “survival skills” to travel the route. Drivers can download a Highway 50 Survival Guide here to help them navigate this road. Be sure to fill up your tank when leaving Fallon because the next town to the east is 111 miles away! ! A few minutes east of Fallon, you’ll see a giant sand dune rising out of the desert: this is Sand Mountain, a two-mile long, 600-foot-high dune.. It’s a haven for off-road enthusiasts, and the mountain is often buzzing with ATVs, dune buggies and sandboarders.
Q7. Are Las Vegas weddings still as popular?
A Las Vegas is known as much for its weddings as it is for its casinos. With an average of more than 120,000 marriage licenses issued annually, Las Vegas is still recognized as the world’s wedding capital so whether it’s eloping on a secret rendezvous, or planning an elaborate ceremony for hundreds of your family and friends, there is no place quite like Vegas to make it official. Since its early history, Las Vegas has been the wedding destination for a multitude of celebrity couples including Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere, Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, and Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie.
Q8. What in your opinion is the “must see” attraction in Las Vegas?
A I think the “must see” attraction in Las Vegas has to be the Strip! You can walk up and down the world famous Las Vegas Boulevard and see so much! The Bellagio Fountains, the Eiffel Tower at Paris, the skyline at New York New York and the Pyramids at Luxor are all within walking distance of each other and are all “must sees”.
Q9. Summarise why you think people should visit Las Vegas. What makes the place so great!?
A I think that there is so much to do and it offers activities and entertainment for all tastes and budgets! You can go shopping, watch headlining acts, eat in a different restaurant every night followed by a trendy nightclub…or you can simply sit back and enjoy the excellent weather!