Our economy is tanking, but don’t tell that to the thousands of tourists that daily fly in helicopters to get a birdseye view of the majestic Grand Canyon. An average of 99 helicopters fly out daily from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, just six fewer than the 2005 peak. And that doesn’t include the additional 3,500 customers that are planned to fly daily from the new Boulder City Aerocenter [Las Vegas Backstage Access April 2 article].
The first phase of the proposed 229-acre Sloan heliport, costing an estimated $115 million and projected for a mid-2011 completion, will provide the home for 80 to 110 helipads.
That will make the heliport the biggest on the planet, say Federal Aviation Administration officials.
The heliport will also clear McCarran airport space for jetliners to bring much-needed tourists to boost the Las Vegas Valley’s economy, while safely moving helicopters away from crowded city neighborhoods.
The FAA has recently signed off on the environmental assessment that now paves the way for the Bureau of Land Management to transfer the Sloan heliport property to Clark County.
Heliport project groundbreaking is planned for early 2010.
Maverick Helicopters is planned to be the first tenant to lease heliport space, which may approved as early as April 7 when the Clark County commissioners meet to discuss the matter. Two more tour operators could join Maverick in occupying the heliport.
In the 60’s Vegas was known for the Rat Pack, showgirls and inexpensive entertainment. Today the $180 per person ticket for some of the best rated Strip shows is above the budget of many tourists looking for a way to get the most value for the dollar. Perhaps that explains the interest in the Fremont Street Experience: A no-cost spectacular that blends elements of classic Las Vegas with current technology in comfortable old-Vegas style.
When the Fremont Street Experience was first proposed the idea of creating a pedestrian mall under a lighted canopy was not just considered risky, but ridiculous. However, with an eye to revitalizing the downtown area and giving a boost to Las Vegas landmark hotels like Binon’s and the Golden Nugget, the city council closed a four block stretch of Fremont in 1994 and began the process of creating a unique historic Las Vegas visitor opportunity.
Now you can step off Las Vegas Boulevard at Fremont and step into the Neon Museum – a collection of neon signs from bi-gone casino’s and hotels. There is a selection of inexpensive curb-side and casino restaurants to choose from and hourly presentations on the Viva-Vision canopy providing free viewing. Different bands perform each week for free on the central sound stage. That’s also where specialty events take place several times a year, including the annual New Years Eve celebration that is jam packed with wall-to-wall partygoers.
Please check out the Fremont Street Experience calendar for the Viva Vision schedule and for a list of hotel/restaurant options and check online for package discounts available throughout the year.
Nevada is home to many industries ranging from agriculture and ranching to the manufacture of lawn equipment and titanium products. In the 1930s Nevada was known as much for the divorce industry as it was for mining. But today, Nevada’s best known industry is tourism. And tourism is under fire at the Carson City capital building in Nevada.
As with most states, Nevada’s balanced budget requirement means that all the dollars and cents must equal out. So when Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons settled in to prepare the 2009 budget, declining revenue and economic downward trending made it necessary to decrease allotments for a variety of state funded agencies. Education and health services have received the most media attention. But in the process of allotting the evaporating funds, the Tourism Commission and the Economic Development Commission have also taken critical budget hits.
The primary recommendation is to merge the two departments which would generate an expected savings of 58%. Staff would be reduced from 28 to 18 and the vacant Nevada tourism director position would remain not filled. In addition, funding would potentially be cut to current projects that support the Nevada Ballet Theatre, the Neon Museum, and the Atomic Testing Museum.
Some of the budget cuts currently under consideration could actually result in the unintentional decrease of part of the natural revenue stream. Because of staffing reductions and expense controls, the Tourism Commission’s Nevada magazine, would most likely become a lighter offering. Advertisers who routinely use the magazine to promote their Las Vegas and Nevada events may be inclined to try another media format. and once they do, many may not return.
Unless the other 49 states once again make divorce difficult to obtain, Nevada needs to ensure that tourism dollars are being spent in the best way possible to woo vacationers to stay and play the Nevada way.