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Las Vegas picked for 2011 global travel summit

by Oskar Garcia
| April 18, 2010 9:00 PM

LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas has been picked as next year's site for an international tourism summit expected to attract government and industry leaders from around the world.

The London-based World Travel & Tourism Council announced Tuesday that the American destination will host the 2011 Global Travel & Tourism Summit.

The announcement comes the same day the primary agency in charge of promoting Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, voted to spend $1.5 million to host the May 15-19 meeting. Officials say the summit will be held at the Aria Resort & Casino, the centerpiece of the $8.5 billion CityCenter complex that MGM Mirage opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December.

This year's summit is being held next month in Beijing.

World Travel & Tourism Council CEO Jean-Claude Baumgarten said the group selected Las Vegas in part because it's a symbol of tourism in the United States.

"We cannot choose a better place than Las Vegas," Baumgarten said. "The whole economy, all of what we are seeing, all the impacts of travel and tourism on the economy, on jobs, on the future and investment (make Las Vegas) a better choice."

Baumgarten said Las Vegas made a winning bid to host the summit, which was last held in the United States in Washington, D.C., in 2006.

Tourism and gambling are primary industries to Sin City, where some 244,000 people are employed in the leisure and hospitality industry - more than 30 percent of Las Vegas' total work force, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said travel and tourism generates $30 billion annually for southern Nevada.

The World Travel & Tourism Council, a forum for travel industry leaders worldwide, estimates that about 235 million people worldwide are employed in travel and tourism jobs, with the industries generating more than 9 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

Baumgarten said the forum would bring together "substantive decision-makers" to discuss major tourism issues and promote the importance of travel.

He said the summit was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, to help spur international travel again.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimates that about 1,000 people will take part in the summit, including top government leaders and business leaders from several countries.