In achieving a series of visitor milestones last year, Las Vegas strode further beyond the downturn while continuing to cement its place as a global leader in the MICE world.

Among the 2013 highlights, Las Vegas welcomed nearly 40 million visitors, its second-highest annual total. Continuing a three-year upswing, the destination hosted 5.1 million delegates at 22,027 conventions, tradeshows and meetings, both five-year highs. And Las Vegas slept more guests on average than any destination in North America, with an industry-leading occupancy of 84.3 percent for its 150,593 rooms—its highest inventory ever.

Along the way, the city has assumed a dynamic new identity. Just as New York City, also on a tourism surge, is bidding “Gotham” farewell, Las Vegas is showing a brand-new 21st century face. Take downtown Las Vegas, for example, its days of decline increasingly in the rearview mirror.

According to Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, who helped start and fund the transformative Downtown Project initiative, downtown Las Vegas is very different from the parts of the city that most visitors see.

“We think the work that we’re doing to revitalize the neighborhood will attract people to discover a completely different side of Vegas,” Hsieh said in a prepared statement. “Places like Downtown Container Park, Gold Spike and other planned openings are great locations for group events and for visitors to gather, collide and connect with the neighborhood.”

The “Entertainment Capital of the World” will always be about sinful fun, but with meetings and conventions generating $7.4 billion in total economic impact for the city last year, “Vegas Means Business” is the banner of the moment, as the city’s convention and hotel leaders explain.

Perpetual Motion
Chris Meyer, vice president of global business sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), has a straightforward explanation for the city’s ongoing ability to evolve and move forward.

“Las Vegas has experienced decades of success because we never rest,” Meyer says. “Currently, there are more than $9 billion worth of projects announced or under construction over the next several years. This year, we’ll see the opening of the SLS, The Cromwell and The Delano, along with countless other new attractions and dining and shopping opportunities.”