Vegas to court Canadians?

The LVCVA is looking to step up its work in Canada, hoping to lure more visitors from the Great White North to Vegas. From the LVRJ:

After 26 years as a Las Vegas visitor, Canadian James Dixon is familiar with Sin City’s hard-sell recruiting tactics. The 55-year-old Toronto-area resident gets monthly mailers from Las Vegas hotels and weekly sales pitches in his workplace e-mail, in addition to unsolicited offers for discounts and comps on the Strip.

“Before, we used to have to phone to see if we could get any comps,” said Dixon, whose visits have evolved from guy-weekend getaways in the early 1980s to family vacations today. “Now they send it to us.”

After today, Dixon and countless other Canadians may be getting even more pitches to visit Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is scheduled to vote on whether to approve a contract that would put Canadian marketing in the hands of a specialist with the goal of attracting even more visitors from Southern Nevada’s No. 1 foreign guest source.

The tourism agency wants to divert Canadians who take vacations in Mexico and the Caribbean to Las Vegas. It also wants to increase the number of Canadian business and convention events in Southern Nevada.

“There is potential for us to capture some of that business,” said Terry Jicinsky, senior vice president of marketing at the authority.

An estimated 1.9 million Canadians visited Las Vegas last year. Even more skipped the United States altogether in favor of Mexican and Caribbean trips.

Last winter about 650,000 Canadians went to Mexico and 400,000 went to the Dominican Republic, according to the Conference Board of Canada, a nonprofit economic research firm. About 275,000 Canadians made winter trips to Las Vegas. The number is well behind other destinations but is a nearly 15 percent increase from the previous winter.

Building on the increase is part of the authority’s strategy to attract 43 million people to Las Vegas annually by the end of 2010. The authority also wants to increase the percentage of foreign visitors to 15 percent, up from 12 percent today.

Increasing the number and diversity of visitors is important because there will be nearly 40,000 new hotel rooms in Las Vegas by the end of the decade. Recruiting visitors is key to maintaining occupancy rates around 90 percent, no small feat considering there are already about 133,000 hotel rooms in Southern Nevada. – Business – How about visiting Vegas, eh?

Maybe a Canadian-themed casino is the missing element here. After all, casinos drape themselves in red and gold banners every Chinese New Year to appeal to Asian visitors. Why not a conscious move towards familiar Canadian icons in Vegas casino. Since I’ve only been to Canada a few times I can only speculate about how’d they do this, but bringing more hockey to town would be a great start.

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