Sunday, October 29, 2006

Vegas, Baby...

Okay, I don't get Vegas. I've never been interested in gambling (and can someone please explain to me what poker is doing in ESPN? On what planet does this constitute a sport?), and the whole sort of tacky aesthetic of Las Vegas only amuses me in small, infrequent doses. I mean, I got a pretty good giggle out of Caeser's Palace, when I saw it a couple of years ago, but as a vacation destination? I don't get it.

A lot of Asians apparently do, according to this LA Times report, and Las Vegas is going all out to make them welcome:
In almost every way, Las Vegas is catering to Asians, offering Asian entertainers, high-stakes baccarat tournaments and rice congee by room service. The festivities and decorations for Chinese New Year have become second only to those for New Year's Eve...

...In part, Vegas is reacting to the success of gaming in Macao - and hoping to capitalize on it. The Chinese territory's 22 casinos, with their proximity to the sheer wealth and population of China, are viewed as competitors and appetizers for Vegas' allure. This year casino gambling revenue in Macao is expected to edge past that of Las Vegas. Each locale brings in more than $6.5 billion.

"There's no question in our minds that as more and more Chinese customers experience Macao, their natural curiosity is going to make them find out what the major leagues are like in Las Vegas," said MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman. (An MGM Grand is scheduled to open in Macao in 2007.)

"If you go to Macao and you really like it, the next thing on your list is going to be to come to Vegas."

As tourism markets go, China is a jackpot in the making. Within five to 10 years, overseas travel will lure an estimated 100 million Chinese annually, a figure that will dwarf every other market in the world, tourism officials said.
One Vegas tour operator is quoted as saying, "For China, in their mentality, this is the ultimate destination."

Like I said, I don't get it. But who am I to argue with slot machines in restrooms and a pina colada-scented volcano?

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