Baby boomers expected to fuel tourism growth |

Baby boomers expected to fuel tourism growth

MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. – The tourism industry should focus on baby boomers to fuel growth over the next decade, travel officials were told Tuesday.

Glenn Schaeffer, president and chief financial officer of Mandalay Resort Group, stressed the importance of reaching the lucrative baby boom market at the 17th annual Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism.

Noting someone turns 50 every seven seconds, Schaeffer said Las Vegas stands to benefit from the market because of the city’s development into a complete entertainment destination over the last decade.

”Baby boomers will be the most mobile generation in the history of man and they’ll spend their money on entertainment,” he said. ”The entertainment sector will grow almost as much as the health care sector.”

More than 800 tourism officials from across the country are attending the three-day conference, which features appearances by industry leaders through Wednesday.

Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, said the gambling industry’s challenges will remain the same next year despite changes in Washington.

He said his top challenge concerns the NCAA’s push for federal legislation to ban betting on college sports in Nevada sports books. Nevada is the only state that allows such wagering.

”We do face a very uphill battle on this,” he said. ”(Despite the changes in Congress) it won’t be easy to block it. It only affects Nevada, and it’s become an easy vote to many politicians because of that.

”This issue will dominate what we’ll do in the next several months. We’ll lay out a game plan to fight it.”

Fahrenkopf also said he expects several key issues concerning Indian casinos to surface in the next session.

Among other things, Congress will consider whether to allow tribes to buy non-contiguous land for casinos and whether to impose tighter controls on Indian casinos, he said.

But Fahrenkopf stressed that he’s neutral on the issue of Indian casinos because of a split in his group’s membership on it.

Overall, the gambling industry heads into 2001 in a strong position after successfully fending off anti-gambling legislation the last five years, he added.

”The state of the gaming industry is good, looks great and can only get better,” he said.

Howard Roth, senior vice president of the Investment Research Co., predicted slower growth in 2001 for both the Nevada and U.S. economies. But he said he doesn’t foresee a recession.

”If you were to ask me the chances of a recession next year, I’d say 25 percent,” he said. ”Last year I would have said 5 percent. So there are greater risks for the economy next year.”

Roth said Nevada casino winnings probably will drop next year because few new casinos are set to open. California Indian casinos probably will pose more competition to Nevada casinos next year, he added.

Polly LaBarre, senior editor of Fast Company Magazine, said she foresees less risk-taking ahead in the business world.

”The next few years will be as dramatically different as the last five years have been,” she said. ”There’s a real sense of caution permeating the business world.”

This year’s conference, whose theme is ”Managing Change in the New E-conomy,” is aimed at helping tourism officials deal with changes brought by new technology.

”Managing change is a necessity, not only to compete, but also just to survive in this business, and our conference is designed to help,” said Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, chair of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

AP-WS-12-05-00 2011EST

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