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News 04.11.15

Las Vegas touts eco-credentials

Katherine Lawrey

REPRESENTATIVES FROM the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority have insisted that the destination’s record- breaking expansion is not at odds with sustainable tourism principles. Last year, Las Vegas passed a record

41.1 million overall arrivals, and Rafael Villanueva, director of international sales, said the city was on track to exceed that in 2015. “In the next six to eight weeks we will get close to or hit 42 million,” he said. There are 150,000 hotels rooms in

the city, and he said average occupancy rates meant that 127,000 of those were full at any one time. Councilman Ricki Barlow, a member

of the LVCVA board of directors, said sustainability was something that


Philadelphia in safe hands as new CEO prepares to take over

THE PHILADELPHIA Convention & Visitors Bureau has assured the trade there will be a seamless handover between its outgoing president and chief executive Jack Ferguson, and his incumbent, Julie Coker Graham. Coker Graham has been executive

vice-president since June 2014, and before that was senior vice-president, convention sales, which are the same roles that Ferguson held. Ferguson said: “Julie has been with the CVB for more than five years, and

before that she was 21 years with Hyatt, so she understands the business model. We’ve concentrated on the succession planning. It will be a time of transition, but maintaining that quality of service is very important to the bureau.” Ferguson retires on December 31

this year after 13 years with the CVB: “Now is the right time to bow out,” he said. “I’ve had a good run, but Philadelphia’s best days are ahead, not behind us.” Chair Nicholas DeBenedictis credited

Las Vegas prided itself on: “In the past we’ve been seen as a city of implosion rather than preservation, but a number of regulations have now been passed to ensure that we have a city that is

Las Vegas The Park

defined by high-end, sustainable, eco-friendly products, such as the Aria Resort, which is one of the largest, but most eco-friendly buildings of its size.” Villanueva added: “We want Las

Ferguson with helping to open up Philadelphia to international markets at a time when state funding was squeezed. “He also oversaw the expansion of the city’s convention centre, which doubled in size. It is the engine room of our hospitality industry, which inspires business travellers to return as tourists.” When Coker Graham takes over on

January 1, she will be able to build on a recent high-profile visit to the city by the Pope: “We’ll look to build on the momentum of that visit. More than one billion people around the world saw spectacular images of Philadelphia for days at a time – the Pope was very visible in the city, and more than 860,000 people attended mass on the Sunday. The Pope really blessed the city, and that sets us up nicely for where we’re going.”

Philadelphia will host another high-

profile event, the Democratic National Convention next summer, while there is also hotel development on the horizon. The former Four Seasons hotel is

The Pope visited Philadelphia earlier this year 20


rebranding as the Logan Square Hotel, which will make its debut in December, and by 2018 there will be an all new Four Seasons.

Vegas to be there for future generations, and we will leave it in a better position than we found it.” One example they highlighted of a

new eco-friendly development was pedestrian walkway The Park, an outside space between Monte Carlo and New York, New York hotels. Although this will be the city’s first

green space, Barlow said it would not abuse precious water resources: “A lot of time and money has been invested to give The Park a genuine green feel, and there will be opportunities for folks to be among trees and grass, but there is some great foliage that grows well in the desert. The city has done a great job of taking care of its water,” he added. When The Park opens in late 2016, it will be lined with retail outlets and lead to a 20,000-seat arena. “There will be boxes for high spenders and it will be a fully flexible space, with the latest lighting, screens and PA systems,” said Villanueva. Meanwhile, new for 2017 will be

Resorts World Las Vegas, an Asia- themed property with 4,000 rooms. It will have a miniature Great Wall, and a panda exhibition. “With the theme, we are going after

the Asian market,” said Villanueva. “But with the quality of service and product, it will cater for every market.”

MARKETING STRATEGY Central America unifies

its approach in Europe THE CENTRAL American Tourism Agency (Cata) is launching a new pan-European campaign to unify the promotion of its seven member countries under one umbrella with the reintroduction of a Spanish office. Currently all member countries

promote themselves individually within Europe. Emilio Silvestri, the Honduran

minister of tourism and incoming president of Cata for January 2016, said the agency’s major focus would be on promoting multi-destination travel, encouraging visitors to travel to more than one country on a single trip. “There are lots of attractions in a small geographical area,” said Silvestri. “You could go from a Caribbean-style beach to areas of Mayan heritage and then fly on to a colonial city.” He also asserted that the new British Airways flight from the UK to Costa Rica would have an impact not only for Costa Rica but for Central America as a whole.

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