Las Vegas was in the news recently with a high security alert that hit the city over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. But there is no sign that meeting and convention business has been hurt by the publicity surrounding the scare.
Media reports had Las Vegas as the target of everything from dirty bombs to terrorists looking to crash a hijacked plane into the city. While authorities continued to stress there was never any specific threat to Las Vegas, comprehensive security precautions were taken. Helicopter gun ships were used to patrol the skies over Las Vegas, cars were searched in front of hotels and resorts, and national guardsmen were brought in to help secure McCarran International Airport. There was, says Jerry Bussell, homeland security advisor to Nevada Gov. Kenneth Guinn, a “real potential for terrorism,” in the city.
Nevertheless, conventions like the International Consumer Electronics Show, held January 8 to 11, attracted 130,000 attendees, including 18,000 international guests. These numbers were up substantially from the 2003 show, says Rob Powers, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. And planners and resort spokesmen report that nothing has occurred that will make planners think twice about bringing their meetings to Las Vegas.
In fact, with the extraordinary amount of security arrangements already in place in the city’s hotels and resorts, Bill Boyd, president and CEO of Sunbelt Motivation and Travel in Dallas, Texas, believes it’s “one of the safest places in the world to stay.”
Look for more information on security issues in the March issue of Corporate Meetings & Incentives.