Press Release



LCQ4:Las Vegas offers lessons to cities in hospitality business


Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a reply by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question : Will the Government inform this Council :

(a) of the places in Las Vegas that the Financial Secretary visited in September this year, and of his observations from the visit;

(b) on the basis of these observations, whether it has assessed if Hong Kong should further invest in building more performance venues in order to promote tourism?


Madam President,

(a) In September this year, I made a one-day stopover in Las Vegas before attending the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings at Washington DC. This was in response to a specific recommendation of the Services Promotion Strategy Group that we should look at ways to develop Hong Kong as a world class visitor, resort, conference and gaming destination.

During my very brief stay in Las Vegas, I visited four theme resort complexes and I saw at first hand how the entertainment industry was run there. I visited the Las Vegas Convention Centre and met the officials of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The centre is the largest single-level centre of its type in the United States. I had discussed with representatives of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, the Nevada Gaming Commission, the District Attorney's Office and the Las Vegas Police Department. These were all separate meetings. These discussions enabled me to learn more about their regulatory regime and licensing procedures and how they successfully managed such a complex holiday and gaming resort. These interlocutors also told me the challenges they faced. I also met with a number of businessmen representing a variety of business interests in Las Vegas and also have lunch with the FBI agents there.

Las Vegas has risen remarkably from a small desert town to one of the world's top tourist destinations in the past two decades. It now handles some 30 million visitors a year. The scope, size and variety of its theme resort centres and convention facilities are phenomenal. They are large by any measure. Many of them would not have been financially or economically viable without the logistics support and revenue subsidy from gambling. I was struck by the professionalism and efficiency of those in the hospitality industry and the regulatory bodies in Las Vegas. They spare no effort in creating a customer-friendly yet highly regulated environment in the city.

The transformation and success of Las Vegas as a tourist, convention and exhibition destination offers many lessons to other cities in the hospitality business. The Commissioner for Tourism in Hong Kong and the Services Promotion Strategy Group with a strong representation of Hong Kong businessmen will carefully consider the data and information gathered to see how our tourism industry can benefit from the experience of Las Vegas.

(b) Modern venues featuring performances of very high standards are an integral part of the resort facilities in Las Vegas. But as I have said, without the revenue support of gambling, many of the venues and performances in Las Vegas would not have been feasible.

Within the limits of our current policy, Hong Kong continues to plan new facilities and attractive events to promote our tourist industry. As Members are well aware, for example, we are planning a new, state-of-the-art performance venue on the West Kowloon reclamation. This will form part of an integrated arts, culture, entertainment and commercial development in Western Kowloon. This development will no doubt enhance the quality of life for our people as well as becoming a new tourist attraction.

End/Wednesday, November 24, 1999