Hoping to maintain its status as one of the nation’s top tourist destinations, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced plans Tuesday to spend nearly $1.3 billion to attract 5 million more visitors annually within the next five years.
The Las Vegas Convention Center will be expanded and improved at a cost of about $400 million to help the authority achieve its five-year initiative of attracting 43 million visitors a year to the city by the end of 2009.
Tourist officials said the city must compete with other major markets and continue with a successful and sexy advertising campaign to keep Las Vegas in the travel limelight.
“We are number one and we are going to stay number one,” LVCVA President Rossi Ralenkotter said after making the presentation to his board.
Ralenkotter said reaching those goals will be difficult with the cruise industry, tribal casinos and other cities, such as Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando, trying to grab a slice of the lucrative travel market.
To retain its place in the tourism hierarchy, Ralenkotter said the city should have about 151,000 hotel rooms and a combination of 10,500 timeshares and condos by 2010. Las Vegas has about 131,000 hotel rooms now.
Hitting 43 million will involve increasing the number of international visitors by 29% and conventioneers by 5%, he said. When the final numbers are tallied, the LVCVA expects about 38 million people will have visited Las Vegas in 2004.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said, who’s also chairman of the LVCVA board.
Attracting more high-profile events to the city will help with visitation. Ralenkotter said ensuring the National Finals Rodeo renews its contract is crucial, and he also would like a second NASCAR race to be staged in the fall.
Ralenkotter said its vital to keep branding Las Vegas as a sexy and naughty place. The campaign could target new domestic markets and include airing commercials abroad.
Crafting the perfect pitch to bring people to Las Vegas will rest partly on R&R Partners that wrote the commercials touting “What happens here, stays here.”
R&R Chief Executive Officer Billy Vassiliadis said he was ready to deliver, and the campaign would be a variation on the current theme.
As long as casino developers Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson and other gambling companies keep building exciting resorts, the city will sell itself, he said.