The second Tuesday of the month is this news junkie’s must-meeting day. The Board of Directors of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) holds its monthly meeting, and news is typically the result. For last Tuesday’s meeting, three TV crews were on hand.
The reason for the TV presence? A report was to be given on the Travel Promotion Act signed the previous Thursday by President Obama. LVCVA President/CEO Rossi Ralenkotter, Gary Selesner, President of Caesars Palace, and Bill Hornbuckle, Chief Marketing Officer of MGM Mirage, were scheduled to speak.
As Ralenkotter explained, the Travel Promotion Act is a bill that had its beginnings with a 1995 White House Conference in Tourism and has been championed by the U.S. Travel Association, its members and various proponents in Congress ever since.
The bill provides a public/private partnership to promote the US as a tourist destination and to inform visitors of travel security policies. Funding will come from a $10 fee to visitors from countries not required to have a visa to visit the U.S. and from matching funds provided by U.S. travel destinations. He called the Travel Promotion Act a “jobs stimulus bill”. The projected annual promotional budget of $200 million hopes to bring an additional 1.6 million visitors to America, eventually creating 40,000 new jobs. For southern Nevada, the country’s number one tourist destination, the goal is to increase international visitation from 15 percent to 20 percent, creating 12,000 new jobs.
Active in promoting the new legislation, Ralenkotter was commended by Selesner and Hornbuckle for his work and was congratulated in being named Chairman of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board reporting to the Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.
The thing I found particularly interesting about the presentations was that every speaker went out of his way to praise Senator Harry Reid. As a news junkie, I watch a good deal of TV, and, except for the kindness following the car accident involving Senator Reid’s family, there’s hardly a good word said about Nevada’s senator. Even Saturday Night Live has a beef. Nonetheless, here’s what was said:
From Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA President/CEO:
(After thanking Senator Ensign, co-sponsor of the bill, Congresswomen Berkley and Titus and Congressman Heller for their support.) “Senator Reid is the one who really pushed it (the bill) across the line; in fact, he testified in front of the senate subcommittee about the Travel Promotion Act.”
From: Gary Selesner, President of Caesars Palace:
“I’m also grateful, on behalf of Harrah’s, that Senator Harry Reid used his power as majority leader to push this through.”
From: Bill Hornbuckle, Chief Marketing Officer from MGM Mirage
“I’d also like to call out our Congressional delegation, in particular Senator Harry Reid. Without him, this bill would not have passed. I recognize that and our company recognizes that.” And later…“Think about China and that emerging market and because of Senator Reid, the West will become their (travel) gateway.”
Immediately after the Travel Act topic concluded, Selesner and Hornbuckle left the meeting (busy getting ready to handle that new influx of tourists, no doubt, or maybe answering the fundraising calls from the Reid campaign). But not so fast…these guys missed the meeting’s other news. In the LVCVA recycle report for 2009, T.J. Spain, co-chairman of the LVCVA Green Team, reported that last year, some 1253.93 tons of waste materials were recovered for recycling. He noted that not all convention centers have comprehensive recycling programs, though Orlando does have such a program. “The Orlando Convention Center website says that for 2009, their recycle rate was 65 percent; our rate was …. 66 percent.” The 1 percent difference drew an appreciative laugh.