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‘Red takeover’ rally to ride into Las Vegas Strip for tourism

A man rides his bike along Las Vegas Boulevard South during a sunny Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) claim in Terminal 1 is empty at McCarran International Airport on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

While many people in the travel and tourism industry may not feel much like celebrating these days, the U.S. Travel Association and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority plan to do that this week.

In fact, on Tuesday, they plan to paint the town red.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Washington-based U.S. Travel Association, is one of Las Vegas’ biggest fans and knows our city and state are going to hurt more than any other destination because of their reliance on tourism and gaming. He offered some words of encouragement to the city’s front-line tourism representatives and explained why he thinks Las Vegas can boom when the time is right.

Dow said people’s reluctance to go abroad could work in Las Vegas’ favor.

“No American is getting on a plane to go to Italy this year, I promise you that,” Dow said. “Or Spain. Or Portugal.”

He said when travel comes back, everyone will be trying to benefit from pent-up demand.

“They want to travel and they’re sure as heck not going to go outside the U.S., at least for the short term. That will change in nine months or a year from now, but for the next six to nine months, they’re staying home.”

He’s also helping make lemonade out of lemons on the convention front.

Late last month, the association announced that IPW, the association’s top international travel trade show, is going to be moved from May 30 this year to May 10-14, 2021, in Las Vegas.

IPW is a huge opportunity for the city because the world’s tourism professionals get to check out Las Vegas first hand. The 2021 show was supposed to be in Chicago, but The City of Broad Shoulders stepped aside to allow Las Vegas to take the spotlight.

“As we look to recover from this health emergency and the resulting economic crisis, it is fitting that we will be able to hold IPW in Las Vegas, a city that epitomizes the economic power of travel and tourism,” Dow said. “We are deeply grateful to Chicago, which had one of the most successful IPWs in recent memory as a first-time host in 2014, for their flexibility, generosity and collaborative spirit.”

Orlando will host in 2022, San Antonio in 2023, Los Angeles in 2024 and Chicago in 2025.

Dow acknowledged that Las Vegas serves as an industry barometer. “You’ve got the No. 1 travel destination in America,” he said. “As goes Vegas, goes the travel industry, so we’re rooting for you to come back really fast and really soon and in the right way and the safe way.”

So what will the association do to rally the troops?

It’s going to use the 37th National Travel and Tourism Week that begins Sunday to celebrate the “Spirit of Travel” by recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of the industry and spotlighting the resilience and hope in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

It couldn’t come at a better time for the tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off or furloughed.

While the association usually is all about conventions, it’s planning a virtual road trip across the United States all day Tuesday on Twitter with a #VirtualRoadTrip and #nttw20 hashtags. It’ll start in Washington at 6 a.m. Las Vegas time with 15-minute tributes in every state over the day.

Nevada gets its turn at 4:15 p.m.

The road trip will highlight the destinations, restaurants, hotels, small businesses, parks and attractions that embody America’s spirit of travel.

Meanwhile, the LVCVA, which has sponsored many National Travel and Tourism Week rallies over the years, has something special planned Tuesday evening.

During a “red takeover” from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, resorts and attractions from downtown to the Strip, including the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the High Roller and resort marquees, will be lit red, this year’s official color of NTTW, in a show of solidarity.

A video honoring the week featuring messages from local hospitality workers is scheduled for release by the LVCVA Sunday.

“Rather than 400 or 500 or more demonstrations and parties and gatherings, it’s going to be much more subtle and much more about ourselves and really talking about the indomitable spirit this industry has and the need to get these people back to work,” Dow said.

Richard N. Velotta at or. Follow on Twitter.

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