If you are of a certain vintage, the ghosts of Las Vegas past can shimmer before the eyes. Smog cocktails at the Flamingo, Evel Knievel flying over the fountain at Caesars Palace, Elvis marrying Priscilla at the Aladdin, the Horse-Around Bar at Circus Circus. “Sin City,” however, has little time for nostalgia.
“Las Vegas isn’t concerned with what we were yesterday or with what we are today,” once observed the late Hal Rothman, chair of UNLV’s History Department, tourism expert and foremost authority on all things Vegas. “It’s tomorrow that entices us.”
In 2007, just before the recession hit, Meetings Focus declared “Viva Las Changes” in heralding “another era of transformation sweeping Las Vegas.” Today, another wave of change is under way that is not just enticing, but spellbinding.
“Las Vegas is known for continually reinventing itself to provide the best possible experience for visitors,” says Kevin Bagger, senior director of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “Since 2007, Las Vegas has added more than 17,000 rooms to its inventory and reinvested more than $10 billion in the travel and tourism industry, adding new restaurants, museums, remodeled meeting space and a streamlined experience at McCarran International Airport with the addition of Terminal 3.”
For the past several years, the conversation in Vegas has been about shuttered hotels, halted projects and economic rut. With a freshly shuffled deck, however, the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” which set a new record by attracting nearly 40 million visitors last year, has its mojo back big time.
“This is an exciting time as the confidence in the Las Vegas brand continues to build with new projects and ongoing reinvestment,” says LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter. “Billions of dollars are being invested in unique experiences and world-class facilities and amenities, showing why Las Vegas continues to be the premier leisure and business destination.”
Under way with a slate of hotel developments and enhancements (see sidebar, page 8), a bold reinvention of the downtown area (see story, page 10) and plans for dynamic new global initiatives, Las Vegas is on the verge of a transformation as visionary as the creation of this unlikely desert mecca in 1905.