Tourism Group Tackles Post-Terrorist Issues
A task force of tourism industry leaders has been created to exchange information and ideas in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt appointed the eight-member Tourism Stability Task Force “to create a short-term plan that will help shore up and stabilize Nevada’s tourism economy.” Task force members include Hunt; Nevada Commission on Tourism Executive Director Bruce Bommarito; Jeff Beckelman, president and CEO of the Reno/Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority; Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association; Manny Cortez, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority; Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association; Diane Patten, Las Vegas station manager for Southwest Airlines; and Billy Vassiliadis, CEO and principal of R&R Partners. The task force will establish a clearinghouse for economic impact information, analyze mitigation programs, identify ways to coordinate efforts, and form partnerships to help stimulate economic growth in tourism.
Mining Rules On Way Out?
Clinton-era legislation supporting strict environmental regulations for hard-rock mining on public lands may now be rescinded by Interior Secretary Gale Norton. The Surface Management Regulations for Hard Mining (sec.3809) allowed government officials to shut down a mining operation at any point if, in their opinion, the operation would cause “substantial irreparable harm” to public lands. Norton suspended the regulations earlier this year, under pressure from the mining industry and lawmakers from mining states, including Nevada. An October vote by a congressional conference committee deleted provisions preventing her from permanently rescinding the regulations. Supporters of the environmental legislation said they would bring the issue back for another congressional vote next year.
Good News, Bad News for Las Vegas Resorts
After operating for little more than a year, the Aladdin has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, allowing the 2,567-room resort to keep its doors open while owners negotiate payments owed to bankers and other debtors. Among its debts, Aladdin Gaming listed $434.5 million to its bankers, $72 million for leases of gaming equipment and other fixtures and equipment and $1.3 million to the Clark County treasurer. Although the property had been in financial trouble for several months, company officials blamed the sharp decline in tourism following the September 11 attacks for precipitating their decision to file for protection. On the brighter side, the Maloof family opens The Palms Casino Resort on November 15. The $265 million off-Strip property features a 42-story hotel tower, a diverse mix of restaurants and bars, a 14-theatre Cineplex, a complete spa, a 1,500-seat entertainment venue, 9,000 square feet of meeting space and a 95,000-square-foot casino. It is located on a 32-acre site on Flamingo Road just west of the Las Vegas Strip and I-15. The Maloof family created the successful locals-oriented Fiesta Casino Hotel, now owned by Station Casinos. It also manages other business ventures, including Maloof Sports, which owns the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association and the Sacramento Monarchs of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
Reno Airport Begins Remodel
Reno/Tahoe International Airport has begun a $3.5 million project designed to upgrade and remodel the airport’s concessions and retail stores. The first phase of the three-phase project will be a remodel of the terminal concourse concessions, followed by the food court concessions and finally the retail store renovation. The airport will also replace existing north and south escalators with more modern and efficient escalators. The entire project is expected to be completed in November 2002. “The airport will have a completely new look when the remodel is complete,” said Krys T. Bart, executive director of the Airport Authority of Washoe County, which owns the airport.
Ballard Communications Restructures
Ballard Communications, Nevada’s largest independent public relations firm, has named Mark L. Olson president and partner, succeeding Mike Ballard, who founded the agency nine years ago and remains chairman. The agency has been renamed Olson-Ballard Communications. Olson-Ballard is an equity partner in Pinnacle Worldwide, a network of 65 independent public relations firms in major markets throughout the United States and around the world. Olson joined the agency from a Los Angeles-based technology firm where he had been vice president. Ballard has been named chief operating officer of Systems Research & Development, a Las Vegas-based software firm.