No other city on earth throws a party like Las Vegas! The 4,000 visitors from around the globe for the IPW World Travel Congress convention were speechless Wednesday night when Caesars Palace hosted their final exciting night on the Strip.
IPW is the largest and most prestigious international tourism trade show held and the largest generator of travel to America. Some 1,200 international and domestic buyers from more than 65 countries conduct business negotiations expected to result in more than $3.5 billion generated in future U.S. travel. Over 1,000 travel organizations from every region of the U.S. also attend.
Their five-day glamorous Vegas visit had been packed with sightseeing and Vegas experiences. Five hundred world travel writers were welcomed at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday to an all-star brunch.
Wednesday night featured an even larger mega-power star turnout with Celine Dion, Donny & Marie Osmond, Penn & Teller and a host of other Caesars Entertainment Strip headliners. Donny started the Osmonds' portion of the show without Marie, who got separated from him and had to push her way through the crowd at the front of the stage. She arrived 30 seconds into the segment.
The travel delegates were treated to a near three-hour ‘white hot’ party hosted by the Quad’s comedy juggler Jeff Civilico. Also entertaining were Flamingo comedy headliner George Wallace; Frank Marino and his Divas Las Vegas cast from the Quad; and the casts of Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah's and Recycled Percussion at the Quad.
Our thanks to photographer Denise Truscello for her gallery of shots.
The Garden of the Gods pool party also served as the official Vegas welcome to a new Bally's headliner, singing impersonator Veronic DiCaire, who starts her run there June 20. She was discovered in French-speaking Canada by Celine and her husband manager, Rene Angelil, who is co-producing Veronic’s show with AEG.
Scenes of Caesars Palace in 17 different Hollywood movies were screened at an earlier VIP reception in the iconic "Rainman" suite. They included the 1970 “Only Game in Town,” Robert Redford’s "Electric Horseman" in 1979, Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise’s "Rain Man" from 1988, and the first and third "Hangover" films from the box-office trilogy winners.
I learned Wednesday night that Las Vegas will play a major role in the new Brand USA public-private partnership established by the federal Travel Promotion Act with the mission of promoting international travel to America. Our LVCVA directors have signed a deal with the 11-member Board of Brand USA and enlisted both financial and promotional support from the seven Cirque du Soleil Strip shows to make Las Vegas the nation's top destination city for overseas visitors!
“We have seen everything Las Vegas has to offer," one French travel representative told me. “It is bigger, better and more exciting than we even thought.” One Asian delegate told me, “You are a party that never ends. There’s nowhere else in the world like Las Vegas. We will be sending you thousands of visitors now that we have experienced it for ourselves.”
The meetings, excursions and experiences were so successful that the the International PowWow will return to Las Vegas in 2020. Next year’s IPW will be in Chicago, then Orlando in 2015, Miami in 2016, Washington, D.C., in 2017, Denver in 2018 and Anaheim, Calif., in 2019.
Caesars executives had set up giant ice sculptures, bar and buffet stations all over the five-acre pool complex so the travel folks could sample 25 celebrity chef dining options, including mini-restaurants from Gordon Ramsay, Nobu, Bobby Flay and Guy Savoy.
Resort president Gary Selesner, just back from a “bucket list” trip to Level One basecamp at Mount Everest in the Himalayas, welcomed the visitors and introduced Celine. I stood right behind them on the upper terrace and she said it better than anybody could: “I love Las Vegas, and you will too. It’s the best you can have for vacation.”
Her final lines were drowned out by the early firing of one a spectacular 10-minute fireworks displays. As one Vegas friend told me while looking down on the crowds: "We pull out all the stops for New Year's Eve but they did even better than that showing Vegas to the world tonight. We can be very proud Vegas will be at the forefront of international travel. ”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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