Las Vegas lures Indian middle class

October 17th, 2008 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Las Vegas is shedding its naughty image for luring the middle-class Indian tourists to the city.The city of casinos, neon lights, nightclubs and snazzy stage shows in the middle of the deserts of Nevada, is shifting focus to conventional entertainment to draw more Indian footprints.

It is eyeing the middle and upper middle class family segment from India, whose arrival to the US has shown an increase of 39 percent since 2006. According to Travel Industry Association (TIA), 567,000 Indian tourists visited the US in 2007.

“India is an important market for us. We are trying to remove the perception that Las Vegas is a gambling town because Indians travelling with family cannot associate gambling and nightlife with family entertainment.

“We are promoting fine dining, hotels, transportation, adventure, desert games and activities for children for Indian tourists with families,” senior international manager of public affairs of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority Jesse Davies said Thursday announcing the entry of Las Vegas tourism in India at a simple launch in the Le Meridien Hotel in the capital.

The Indian outbound market, which is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.30 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to an estimate by RNCOS Industry Research Solutions, is the trigger for the entry of Las Vegas tourism into the Indian market.

Davies said his state wanted to tap the tourism potential of the burgeoning Indian middle class that numbered around 4000,000. “Las Vegas has changed. It has evolved as a family entertainment town with some of the finest restaurants, spas, shopping centres, golf courses, spas and family entertainment like magic and music,” he said.

The city, made famous by the rock superstar of the 50s Elvis Presley with his immortal number “Viva Las Vegas”, offers almost all kinds of entertainment that go beyond the conventional roulette and strip dances. “We have a dolphin park and shark pool in the middle of the desert,” he said.

Vegas, said Davies, is a music lover’s delight. It hosts resident (regular) music shows by icons of western pop and rock like Elton John and Donny and Marie. Illusionist and magician Cirque Du Soleil has five regular shows, Davies said.

The representative of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority said his state was also eyeing the lucrative Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) segment of corporate and business tourists.

An estimate says the MICE segment in India has been growing at the rate of 15 percent to 20 percent annually and multinational companies were taking their crew out for brains-storming sessions.

“Tourism in Las Vegas faces three challenges which put off tourists from Asia, especially India - the perception that it is a gambling town, absence of direct flights from India and poor awareness about the city,” Davies said.

The fastest way to reach Vegas was to fly to San Francisco from India and take a domestic carrier to the city. “It takes nearly 70 minutes to reach Vegas from San Francisco,” Davies said. Pricing, said Davies, was not a hurdle. “An average middle class Indian tourist can stay in Vegas for three nights for 100 dollars,” he said.

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