Las Vegas must bolster transportation infrastructure

In the international travel marketplace, visitors have more options — and the United States has more competition — than ever before. We are in a race to capture trillions of dollars in travel and tourism spending, and destinations worldwide are investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure projects as a means to win.

The U.S. and Las Vegas must rise to this competitive challenge and renew our commitment to a world-class connected transportation infrastructure. In fact, just recently, I joined CEOs from within and outside the travel industry, global experts and Las Vegas transit leaders at the first national summit dedicated entirely to this issue, the Connecting America Through Travel Conference. The clear conclusion was this: If we are to protect the continued growth of travel and tourism — a key driver of local and national economic development — transportation must be viewed as an imperative that demands urgent focus and significant public- and private-sector investment.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has long advocated this position, recognizing the opportunities created by pursuing a more modern and innovative American transportation system. As progress is made at the national level, we are focusing our attention locally to seize the transportation opportunities that will accelerate our next wave of growth.

The vehicle for this renaissance has been conceived as the Las Vegas Global Business District, a transformative redevelopment project that will further establish Las Vegas as a center of innovation and commerce, along with the leisure experience for which we are renowned. The Las Vegas Global Business District includes a reimagined and expanded state-of-the-art convention center, a World Trade Center — the future home of forward-looking and inventive businesses, a beautification plan for the convention corridor and, importantly, an infrastructure plan that envisions a comprehensive, multi-modal, connected transportation system.

This last point is crucial because the incomparable Las Vegas experience — and the billions of dollars in benefits it generates — relies on bringing in almost 40 million visitors annually and moving more than half a million visitors and residents on and off the Strip every day.

A modern transportation system will create a more convenient and pleasant Las Vegas experience for travelers arriving by air and highway alike. Guests landing at McCarran International Airport will be greeted by multi-modal public transit that will provide seamless connection from their gate to their hotel room — and to any other Las Vegas attraction during their stay. Likewise, drivers will benefit from less-congested roads as tourists and residents take advantage of a vast distribution of pedestrian-friendly walkways and utilize modern, newly operating transit systems.

We at the LVCVA are committed to this vision.

Las Vegas has always been a place where big ideas become reality. Setting the standard is part of our identity, and it is time we brought that mind-set to the untapped potential of our transportation options. Modernizing our infrastructure transcends a mere transportation proposition. For us, it is part of our core brand proposition. Las Vegas promises big things: Freedom, innovation and unlimited opportunities. The Las Vegas transportation experience should be no exception.

With the vision of the Las Vegas Global Business District as our guide, we are bringing divergent voices to the table — transportation executives, elected officials, business leaders and community stakeholders — to collectively design the infrastructure system that builds on our position as the entertainment capital of the world. Together, we will look to the brand promise of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada as a catalyst for reshaping and rebuilding our transportation framework, turning our transportation solutions into a global model of excellence.

The United States is fully capable of rising to the transportation challenges posed by its competitors, and reclaiming our title as a pioneer in this space.

Las Vegas will lead the way.

Rossi Ralenkotter is president and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

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