Gaming goes global

Apr 25, 2006 1:33 AM

Las Vegas tourism officials will target a larger international constituency in order to help fill hotel rooms in the future.

Luring overseas customers is part of a campaign to bring more visitors that will be needed to fill the 171,000 hotel rooms the city expects to have in 2010.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority projects a 28 percent increase in the city’s current inventory of 133,000 hotel rooms, which already dwarfs other U.S. cities.

Los Angeles, the second-largest hotel market after Las Vegas, has 93,000 rooms; New York had 70,500 rooms in 2004; and San Francisco, 32,800.

Las Vegas hotel occupancy was 91 percent last year.

To help boost demand for the added number of guest rooms, the LVCVA has earmarked four areas of potential growth: specific regional and ethnic markets, including a burgeoning Hispanic market; opening offices in overseas locations such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia; working with international airlines to bring non-stop flights to Las Vegas; and luring special sporting events such as the 2007 NBA All-Star Game to the city.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism last year opened an office in Beijing to attract Chinese visitors, which are not allowed to gamble in China (except in Macau).

The LVCVA hopes to increase its visitor count from 38.6 million last year to 43 million in 2009, even though the overall U.S. market share of the total international tourism market is at an all-time low.

Tourism to Las Vegas last year had an economic impact of $26.7 billion, while the hospitality industry generated 267,000 jobs.

"Part of what we do as destination markets is to fuel the local economy and create jobs in the community," said Rossie Ralenkotter, chief executive of the LVCVA.