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December 14, 2017

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Quirks, habits of international visitors explored at Governor’s Tourism Summit

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Steve Marcus

Pedestrians are shown along the Las Vegas Strip on Christmas Day Friday, Dec. 25, 2015.

French tourists to Nevada seek the outdoors and cultural opportunities, while Chinese tourists are switching from group arrangements to independent travel.

Travel tendencies of international tourists were among the discussion topics on the second day of the Governor’s Summit on Tourism at the Flamingo Las Vegas.

Gov. Brian Sandoval underlined tourism’s importance to the state during his luncheon speech at the summit, hosted by the Nevada Department of Tourism. He noted that one-third of the state’s tax revenue comes directly from the tourism industry.

A larger portion of that revenue is coming from foreign tourists. “International visitors made up 19 percent of the people who came here in 2016. That’s up from 15 percent in 2015,” Sandoval said.

Among the other observations gleaned from sessions presented by marketing companies hired by the Department of Tourism to promote the state worldwide, including in China, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, India and Latin America:

• Tourists from India are younger and tend to travel as families but not extended families. They’re known to take monthlong honeymoons.

• Canadians book warm-weather vacations and rely on travel agents for a sense of security while traveling.

• French tourists are more likely to skip meals to devote more time to exploring destinations.

• Travelers from the United Kingdom tend to avoid popular attractions and are looking for “authentic” American experiences.

In his general session speech, Bruce Bommarito, vice president of international marketing at Caesars Entertainment Corp., spoke about Caesars’ efforts to integrate WeChat into Caesars properties’ operations.

WeChat is a mobile-phone application that millions of Chinese people use for payments and to make reservations in China.

“WeChat represents huge amounts of the Chinese market,” Bommarito said. “Basically 100 percent of anyone who comes from China has WeChat on the phone.”

Making payments using smartphones is so ubiquitous in China, Bommarito said, that on a recent trip to the country he was able to give money to a street beggar using his iPhone.

“He had a sign with a QR code on it (consumers in China make payments by using their phones to scan QR codes),” Bommarito said.

Earlier in the year, Caesars started accepting WeChat payments at 16 Las Vegas locations and is working to expand it across the company. “It will be systemwide next year,” he said.