NEW YORK -- As the travel industry picked itself up after Sept. 11,
one of the first destinations to get rolling again was Las Vegas.
"It's the one product that seems to have rebounded the fastest,"
said Eileen Kennedy, vice president of regional marketing at Gogo
"Las Vegas, more than any destination in the world, understands
that getting traffic back into the city is vital," said Ray Snisky,
vice president of corporate development at Mark Travel Corp. "The
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the hotels and
airlines all demonstrated a responsiveness and were quick to get
moving," he added. "There was a realization that you've got to get
people back to the destination even if it means your price points
are not up to what you would like."
The Las Vegas tourism industry might have responded more quickly
than many because the city is more dependent on tourism than most
other destinations. Hotels and tour operators cut their prices.
National Airlines offered a $75 roundtrip fare from New York for
Tuesday departures, creating astounding values in a market used to
prices that already are unrealistically low by most standards.
MLT Vacations' Worry-Free Vacations offered free air with
three-night plans to Las Vegas booked on Oct. 10, starting at $36
per person, double. But there are other reasons the city might have
recovered much quicker than most places.
"I guess Las Vegas visitors are risk takers," said Kennedy.
Those who breathe the rarefied atmosphere of Las Vegas casinos are
hardly the faint of heart. At least not when they are in the city
itself, where the exhilaration is contagious.
From the standpoint of the security issues that became so
sensitive in September, Las Vegas stands up pretty well in the
range of travel destinations. A domestic destination, it might be
perceived as remote from the problems of the world, located off in
the desert and surrounded by mountains. And, perhaps most
importantly, Las Vegas is the ultimate fantasy city.
"It's a place to get away from everything that is happening,"
said Kennedy. Everything seems possible in Las Vegas. The wealth of
the casinos has built a glittering empire, with the most audacious
architecture to be found anywhere on earth.
The sense of American can-doism is nowhere more flagrantly
exhibited than in Las Vegas. Monumental hotels from a few years ago
are razed and new, even more spectacular ones take their places in
a matter of months. And if Americans do hold back from
international travel until world tensions cool down a bit, where
better to go than Las Vegas, where many of the world's great
destinations reside in miniature. There are the Paris, New York-New
York, Monte Carlo and Luxor hotels.
But not only barriers of space are obliterated, so are barriers of
time. Clients can find themselves in ancient Rome at Caesar's
Palace, King Arthur's court at Excalibur or the ultimate fantasy
world of movies at MGM Grand.
Tour operators like Southwest Airlines Vacations might expand
Las Vegas' sense of universality by expanding the range of
experiences available to visitors. "We've added adventure tours,
river rafting, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and ghost town tours,"
said Janet Warford, associate product manager at Southwest Airlines
Vacations. "It's not for everyone, but for particular travelers who
don't want to spend all their time in the casinos [it's an
In addition, Las Vegas remains one of the most affordable
destinations, though indications are that prices will stabilize
after the first of the year, when demand appears to be holding
strong. But Las Vegas is always among the best bargains in the
"There will be price-cutting through December," said Kennedy.
"Then we'll get back to our regular pricing. It's a destination
that still maintains a high level of demand."