Too early to tell on Brexit tourism fallout, convention experts say

Experts with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and researchers who study the hospitality industry say it’s too early to tell if there will be any long-term implications on visitation from Great Britain as a result of the Brexit vote.

“While it’s certainly too early to determine any potential impact, the LVCVA is monitoring the situation in the United Kingdom,” a statement issued Friday by the authority said.

“From a policy standpoint, no new documents are required for British travelers to visit the U.S. and Las Vegas. The UK represents our largest overseas market, so we will continue to aggressively promote the destination to British travelers and to travelers around the world.”

Great Britain is Las Vegas’ top overseas market, third worldwide only to Canada and Mexico.

An estimated 725,729 visitors from the United Kingdom traveled to Las Vegas in 2014, the last year the U.S. Commerce Department has provided statistics. That’s an 11.6 percent share of the entire foreign market.

Increases in nonstop flights between Great Britain and Las Vegas since then would indicate the total is now higher.

The LVCVA has a representative office in London that works exclusively to market Las Vegas to British travelers.

A post on a meeting planning website indicated a conference in Orlando has seen some cancellations for an event in two months because of the anticipated drop in the value of the British pound.

“This could also affect Las Vegas, depending on how many conferences depend on British attendance,” Patti Shock, an academic consultant to The International School of Hospitality in Las Vegas and a professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said in an email.

Some large Las Vegas conventions are coming up on the local calendar, but organizers say it’s too early to determine whether they would be affected.

Separately, Stephen Miller, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, warned of negative economic impact to Southern Nevada and the rest of the U.S. by the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union.

Polls on Thursday prior to election forecast a narrow win for staying in the European Union when Miller spoke to business leaders the same day at an economic conference.

Miller projected growth in the Southern Nevada economy, which he said would outpace the nation’s economy, of less than 2 percent through 2017. The biggest concern he raised in his forecast, however, is what might happen abroad in China or Europe that could weaken the international economy.

While the European economy is weak, Miller said the global markets were forecasting Britain would vote to state in the EU, and that reduced uncertainty and volatility over the last couple of weeks. A loss changes all that and will be reflected in the markets, he said.

A loss might cause turbulence in the world economy because when Britain is in the EU, they’re able to trade with all of the other countries without tariffs, Miller said. Their trading relationships will change now and impact the economy there, he said.

“It’s been estimated that it might damage the growth rate by 10 percent or more, and the British pound sterling might decrease by 10 percent or more,” Miller said. “That volatility will play havoc with the markets going forward.

“In terms of economic growth, it would spill into our economy. Any change in the international growth will affect the U.S. growth, and it will indirectly affect us because we’re relying on visitors in our economy. If the national economy slows down or goes into a recession, that can affect us,” he said.

Although Miller issued warnings, Matt Reents, a spokesman for the British Consulate-General in Los Angeles, said the change won’t happen instantly. For one thing, he said, British Prime Minister David Cameron will stay on through October and it will be up to his successor to decide when to trigger the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.

In a statement, British Consul General Chris O’Connor said, “Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong; it’s the fifth largest in the world and the (Bank of England) has set out the steps they are taking to reassure financial markets,” he said in a statement Friday. “It is important to understand that — as (Cameron) has said — there will be no immediate changes in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.”

Review-Journal writer Matthew Crowley and freelance writer Buck Wargo contributed to this report.

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