Vegas officials hope Singapore nonstops hit jackpot

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LAS VEGAS -- Singapore Airlines will make its nonstop foray into Las Vegas in August, and officials said they are hoping the three weekly flights from Southeast Asia translate into a big payoff for the city.

"It's a huge development for us for many reasons," according to Rob Powers, vice president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

"It's significant in the fact that it's the first time any carrier has initiated service from Southeast Asia to Las Vegas. Asia is a very important market for us."

Las Vegas officials are hoping new Singapore air service will bring more international visitors to the city. Above, the Fremont Street Experience. Japan Airlines already flies Tokyo-to-Las Vegas service, so the addition of the Singapore service "really opens up the Asian market a lot more to us," Powers said.

The new Singapore service, which launches Aug. 2, will operate from Singapore to Hong Kong to Las Vegas on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The return flights depart Las Vegas on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Although Powers said it was difficult to quantify in specific numbers, he said the three weekly flights had the potential to "bring tens of thousands of additional visitors" a year to Las Vegas.

"The bottom line for us is that [the Asian] market now realizes that it's much easier to get here than ever before," he said.

The new service, Powers said, makes it easier to market Las Vegas as a true international destination, something the LVCVA has been trying to do for years.

The international market accounts for about 11% of Las Vegas' total visitors -- and the Asian market accounts for six of the top 20 international markets traveling to Las Vegas. Japan is the top international market, the LVCVA said.

Powers said he hopes other carriers will follow Singapore's lead and decide to initiate nonstop international service to the city. "Obviously, the easier it is for any international market to get here the better it is for us," he said.

Although Powers said the LVCVA is expecting the flights to bring mostly leisure travelers from Southeast Asia, there is an important implication for the meetings and conventions market, as well.

"This opens up new possibilities for the entire Asian market -- both business and leisure," Powers said. "And in the post-Sept. 11 world, it makes Singapore's announcement all the more significant."

A Singapore Airlines official echoed Powers' sentiments. Michael Tan, senior executive vice president for the carrier, said Las Vegas has become a "popular home for megaconferences, exhibitions and incentive programs throughout the year."

In North America, Singapore serves New York (Kennedy and Newark), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago (O'Hare) and Vancouver.

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