From baccarat and pai gow poker to noodle restaurants, it’s no secret that Las Vegas has long been courting travelers from Asia, particularly China. But by this Chinese New Year — Jan. 28 — visitors will find a more intense focus on Asian tourists on and around the Strip as businesses aim to increase international traffic.
The first direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, launched Dec. 2 by Hainan Airlines, is viewed as a major step toward the goal the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has set to push international visitation to 30 percent over the next decade. International visitors currently account for 16 percent of traffic.
Some 207,000 Chinese travelers visited Las Vegas in 2015, a figure that has nearly quadrupled since 2006. Asians accounted for roughly 13 percent of international visitors in 2015.
To welcome them, the 203-room Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, which opened Dec. 3, hired a multilingual staff. The largely Asian-backed project is the first to make international players its focus. From the slot machines near the pagoda-shaped bar to the spa featuring a reflexology room with six stations for foot massages, signage is in Chinese first and English second. Among five Asian restaurants, Dragon’s Alley conjures a night market with street food fare, and a high-end tea lounge offers indoor and outdoor seating.
Caesars Entertainment hopes to attract more Asian travelers, who management says often travel in groups or as multigenerational families, with its Anthology Suites & Villas. The collection of over 1,800 spacious accommodations at 10 properties is normally reserved for high rollers and celebrities (rooms from $300).
The lunar new year has become high season for Asian visitors and Strip attractions from the Bellagio Conservatory to the Forum Shops decorate with dragons and red lanterns. The annual Chinese New Year in the Desert, with a parade, lion dances and concerts Jan. 28 to 30, has expanded to several locations including Fashion Show Mall, Downtown Container Park and the Linq Theater. Chinatown Plaza will hold its celebration of the year of the rooster Feb. 12 with a pan-Asian food festival.
Restaurants offering special menus for the holiday include China Poblano from the chef José Andrés, where dishes from Jan. 27 to Feb. 11 will include traditional ingredients like dried oysters, black moss, sea cucumber and abalone.
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