Nevada tourism panel deals with impact of terrorist attack
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Members of a panel trying to help revive Nevada tourism following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were optimistic as they held their first meeting Thursday.
”Folks, we ain’t that bad,” said panel member Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners, noting that tourist traffic was down for several days following the East Coast attacks but appears to be recovering now.
”We are not in crisis management,” Vassiliadis told other members of the Tourism Stability Task Force. ”This is now a proactive, prospective tourism-building effort.”
Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, who heads the new panel, said Nevada remains a draw for gamblers and tourists no matter what’s happening around the country or the world.
”When people work and fight, they still have to play,” Hunt said. ”What better place to recreate than the state of Nevada?”
Bill Bible, head of the Nevada Resort Association which represents the state’s major hotel-casinos, suggested state-level incentives for airlines, such as reduced landing fees, to offer cheap flights to Nevada.
Manny Cortez, head of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, questioned whether some federal-level incentives could do the same thing.
Frank Fahrenkopf of the American Gaming Association said such proposals are being discussed, along with possible federal efforts to help laid-off workers with health insurance and other needs.
Fahrenkopf also said the best strategy is not to ask Congress for relief that just helps a specific industry, such as casinos, but that instead ”promotes air travel generally.”
”If we can get people flying again, that helps us all,” he said.
Diane Patten of Southwest Airlines said passenger counts into Las Vegas were off immediately after the attacks, but now that people realize security has improved it’s within 10 percent of normal.
Patten added that Las Vegas can bounce back because people need to ”get away and not worry about what’s going on. It’s kind of like the adults’ Disney World.”
Bruce Bommarito, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, said auto traffic into rural areas such as Winnemucca and Laughlin increased when air traffic into Reno and Las Vegas was down.
”It’s not a big impact on the state, but it’s certainly a positive impact,” he said.
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