Las Vegas and singer Matt Goss steal the show at tourism event, NYC news!
LOS ANGELES - Leave it to Las Vegas to trump the competition.
Tuesday was day two of the U.S. Tourism Pow Wow convention here in L.A., and there was a steady parade of press conferences.
Orlando brought in some cute, fuzzy characters. Sea World had a small group of penguins to promote their new Antarctica exhibit. (They were cute, but why on earth did I see a grown woman on her HANDS AND KNEES on the floor, trying to lure a penguin over towards her and pursing her lips as if seeking a kiss? I mean, geez, lady, these are wild animals on the floor of a convention centre. Leave them alone. And do you really want fish breath that badly?)
Vegas had a briefing session of its own, but instead of making reporters schlep down the hall for a press conference, they brought the conference to the media room and staged a late morning concert with singer Matt Goss, who headlines at Caesars Palace.
Goss is a great band singer and he had a smoking hot band with him, including a horn section that practically blew the keys off my laptop keyboard. My goodness, that’s a great, great band.
Goss plays regularly at Las Vegas and, despite not being a huge Vegas guy, I’d make the trip just to hear him sing – and to hear that band again.
Las Vegas officials said they attracted 38.9 million visitors last year, their second highest-ever.
“Las Vegas is back,” said convention and visitors authority chief Rossi Ralenkotter.
Orlando boasted that it drew a record 54 million visitors last year, while New York said it set a record with 50.5 million visits.
New York also announced that, for the first time ever, Canada sent more tourists to their city than any other country, with just over a million Canadians heading to town. The UK has traditionally been top of the list, A-number-one, but slipped behind Canada last year.
Brazil is charging up the charts in remarkable fashion when it comes to New York travel. They had barely 100,000 visits as recently as six years ago but New York officials predict a million will come by the year 2015. That’s a good thing, because they tend to spend a great deal of money on their shopping trips in Manhattan, and New York is aiming to increase its tourism economic impact from about $48 million last year to $70 billion by 2015.
New York put on a big show at lunch for some 6,000 Pow Wow delegates. They had a choir of kids singing New York New York as delegates entered the main balllroom. Then, over lunch, they had songs and dances performed by cast and crew members from Jersey Boys, Memphis, Spider-Man, Sister Act and the Lion King, which was probably best of them all in my book.
Folks seated at the New York City tourism table were given CD’s from several New York Broadway shows, which was a nice touch.
These Pow Wow meetings are filled with press conferences so that cities and tourism groups can get their message out. Almost all such gatherings feature a goodie or two for the freebie-mad media. Often it’s a scarf (Sea World) or a t shirt (the U.S. Travel Association) and a USB stick with data and images. But sometimes there’s a little more. And sometimes there’s a lot more.
Vegas, naturally, topped the billing on Tuesday. They gave out black bags that had miniature binoculars, Nobu green tea, Shadow Creek golf balls, a Tryst nightclub ball cap (hey, honey, look what I got you in L.A.!), lip balm, a Cirque du Soleil CD and more.
Tuesday night was party night. California put on a great mixology event with a Los Angeles couple that makes their own liquor and their own modifiers/liqeurs, both totally organic. They also source entirely organic fruits and herbs and make their own syrups from honey and make their own bitters.
They gave a handful of media types the chance to help mix their own cocktails, as even California doesn’t allow folks who aren’t licensed to pour their own alcohol into a cocktail shaker, even at a sanctioned tourism event. Mine had homemade spiced rum, lime and lemon juice, hibiscus liqeur, lavender liqeur (I think), honey syrup (like simple syrup but made with honey instead of white sugar) and a pinch of basil. Yum.
Later there was great Napa Valley wine from Duckhorn at a Visit California event, then New York City held a party on the ground floor cocktail bar at the JW Marriott, located at the L.A. Live hotel/restaurant complex next to the Staples Center. They had a guy cooking made to order macaroni and cheese, complete with toppings that included your choice of diced veggies, Serrano ham, pancetta, caramelized onions, bacon, truffle oil and more.
Upstairs, St. Petersburg/Clearwater had an outdoor bash next to the pool on the fourth floor in rather cool and blustery conditions. Almost everyone wore white and there were fountains and huge, Vegas-like ad displays on the walls of the condos and the Ritz Carlton next door.
San Francisco, host of the 2011 Pow Wow event, put on a crazy good show. They had a huge ballroom set up with a miniature Golden Gate Bridge and a series of bars and food stations and a DJ. They also had a pair of go-go dancers clad in white mini-skirts and skimpy tops and white go-go boots, as well as young male dancers stripped mostly down to the bare essentials.
The women were dancing in a section of the ballroom sponsored by Open Top sightseeing tours of San Francisco, and their shirts had the words “It’s better on top.”
I’d like to tell you more but after three parties I didn’t feel like taking notes or asking go-go dancers if I could take their picture…
Texas also had a big bash Tuesday night but I didn’t have the energy for it.