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New tourism panel begins yearlong effort

While average daily room rates and hotel occupancy rates are below historic highs, Las Vegas is seeing the highest level of visitation in its history, economist Jeremy Aguero told members of a new committee this week.

Aguero, of Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, also outlined historic and projected trends in population, employment and visitation and how their dramatic growth over the past six decades are requiring the need to develop infrastructure to support the accompanying visitor volume as the community grows.

The 11-member panel’s mission is to recommend projects to keep Las Vegas at the top of the tourism industry worldwide and suggest how to pay for them.

On Tuesday, it charted a course to discuss possible improvements for McCarran International Airport and the future of transportation; stadiums, arenas and event centers; convention centers; roads, highways and mass transit; and pedestrian movement within the resort corridor.

The committee, formally known as the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, is headed by Steve Hill, director of the Governor’€™s Office of Economic Development.

Next month, the committee will dig into its first area of focus with reports on McCarran and the future of transportation. Presentations are planned on passenger carriers, air tour operators, cargo carriers, taxi, shuttle and ground transportation companies and resorts. Transportation experts from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the U.S. Department of Transportation and CityLab are expected to make presentations.

Hill said the committee would meet monthly and hear from experts before concluding on recommendations for a report to be delivered to Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The finished report could lead to efforts to seek legislative help on federal, state and local levels.

Committee members include Hill, UNLV President Len Jessup, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristin McMillan.

Committee membership also includes resort industry leaders Tom Jenkin of Caesars Entertainment, Bill Noonan of Boyd Gaming, Bill Hornbuckle of MGM Resorts International, Kim Sinatra of Wynn Resorts, George Markantonis of Las Vegas Sands and Mike Sloan of Station Casinos.

Six nonvoting community experts will assist the committee: Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell, Clark County Manager Don Burnette, Regional Transportation Commission General Manager Tina Quigley, Clark County Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and financial expert Guy Hobbs.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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