China Growing In Importance As Source Of Las Vegas Visitors


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Chinese New Year 2016 display at the Bellagio Conservatory

It’s Chinese New Year on Saturday, and Las Vegas has much to crow about as it rings in the Year of the Rooster.

In the last few months Hainan Airlines began the first direct Beijing to Las Vegas flights and a Chinese-themed resort opened just off the Strip.

Those investments reflect the belief that Las Vegas can greatly increase visitation from China, which totaled just below 210,000 in 2015 after several years of double-digit growth.

As China’s population nears 1.5 billion and its economy continues to grow, more Chinese will have the resources to travel abroad. Already 120 million Chinese venture outside their country yearly, said Billy Bai, professor and associate dean at UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Administration.

The bulk of those tourists visit nations close to home, with the top five international destinations all in Asia.

Still, more than 2.5 million Chinese made their way to the United States in 2015, making it the fifth-largest source of international visitors. Trends have it overtaking the United Kingdom and Japan in the next few years to take the No. 3 spot, behind Canada and Mexico.

Las Vegas tourism officials are paving the way for that day by marketing in China and offering more culturally sensitive amenities at the city’s resort properties.

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Billy Bai, professor and associate dean at UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Administration; Rafael Villanueva, senior director of international sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; Jordan Seager, vice president of marketing for the Lucky Dragon resort.

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