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BY Abra Dunsby


WTM 2017: 'Safety a concern but visitor numbers still strong,' says Las Vegas's Cathy Tull

Las Vegas addressed safety concerns at WTM London today, though confirmed that visitor numbers remained strong

Mexico City dusk skyline

Las Vegas addressed safety concerns at WTM London today, though confirmed that visitor numbers remained strong

Visitor safety is of “utmost concern” a Las Vegas spokesperson said today, a month on from the mass shooting that left 59 dead.


Speaking to TTG at WTM London, Cathy Tull, senior vice-president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said safety was “always a discussion”, and that security measures are being put in place to protect visitors.


Steel bollards are currently being constructed next to pavements along the Las Vegas Strip, stopping vehicles from mounting pavements in any potential truck-style terror attacks.


The bollards begin from outside the Mirage hotel casino and will continue along the Strip, with the project planned for completion by the end of November.


Tull said visitor numbers appear not to have been affected since the shooting at a music festival in October.


Las Vegas welcomed a record number of visitors for the third year in a row in 2016, 19% of which were international visitors.


Canada is the destination’s number one international market, with ‎1,440,846 visitors in 2016, while Mexico is second and the UK is third.


Tull said the destination hadn’t noticed any “Trump slump” effect, with international visitors looking strong.


“Vegas is viewed as its own island, and isn’t as closely tied to the government as somewhere like Washington DC, so there hasn’t been an impact on numbers,” explained Tull.


“We’ve always been about adult freedom, which works very well in a global environment,” she added.


Visitor numbers from Mexico have lulled recently, but Tull attributes this to the recent earthquake in Central Mexico.


Tull said Vegas will continue welcoming visitors from Mexico thanks to a direct route from Mexico City to Las Vegas with VivaAerobus, which launched in June.


Las Vegas has also benefited from added airlift from the UK, with Norwegian launching a twice-weekly seasonal flight in October last year and British Airways ramping up its flights from Heathrow this year.


UK visitor numbers were at 750,000 last year, an increase of about 1% compared with the 2015 figures.


MICE tourism continues to flourish, with Las Vegas welcoming a record 6.3 million delegates for events in 2016.

Plans to further boost MICE visitors include new meeting spaces at Aria Resorts and Casino slated for February next year, and an expanded MGM Convention Centre set for completion in 2018.


Tull was also keen to highlight Las Vegas’s diverse tourism offering, including its dining options and wide range of spas and shopping experiences.


“Our hotel partners make less than 50% on gaming, proving we have so much more to offer.”


Sports fans will have more reasons to visit Vegas in the coming years, with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders moving to Vegas for 2020 and a new soccer team named the Las Vegas Lights FC coming to Vegas in 2018.

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