Vegas, baby, Vegas: annual City Tour heads to Sin City
This year’s City Tour, like those in past years, will feature a lineup of speakers from the government, business and the not-for-profit sectors.
But the people on the 2012 edition of the annual trip might also glimpse Elvis impersonators, showgirls and down-on-their-luck gamblers.
The City Tour, set for September, will head to Las Vegas for the first time, by a wide margin the largest city that the trip has ever visited. The trip is scheduled from Sept. 5 until Sept. 9. Three nights will be spent in Las Vegas and one night will be spent in Brian Head Resort, a small mountain resort in Southern Utah.
Myles Rademan, the longtime organizer of the City Tours, said Las Vegas is an intriguing destination with an economy based on tourism. He called it "the largest tourist destination in the world" and said gambling nowadays accounts for a smaller percentage of the revenues in Las Vegas than it once did.
"We’re in the same business as they are. We just do it differently," Rademan said.
The group will stay in downtown Las Vegas instead of the more famous Strip. They are booked at the Golden Nugget, a hotel and casino close to the Fremont Street Experience tourist draw.
Rademan said much of the time will be spent in downtown learning about attempts to revitalize the district. Downtown Las Vegas is overshadowed by the giant hotel-casinos and shopping areas on the Strip. Rademan said downtown has "been struggling in the shadow of the Strip." The itinerary does not include a stop on the Strip.
He said he wants to schedule speakers from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority alongside government officials, businesspeople and the representatives of the not-for-profit sector. A presentation by an executive from Zappos.com, an Internet-based clothing and footwear seller, is planned.
Las Vegas has long been seen as one of Park City’s competitors in the tourism industry even as the two places differ greatly in their attractions. Rademan said people have a limited amount of money to spend on travel, meaning that they might have to choose between places like Park City and Las Vegas.
Excursions are planned to Hoover Dam, the Red Rock Canyon conservation area and Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort outside of Las Vegas. Powdr Corp., the parent of Park City Mountain Resort, also owns the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort.
The City Tour usually involves upward of 65 people, including officials from City Hall, the County Courthouse and other government institutions. Business and not-for-profit leaders sign up as well. The class of Leadership Park City, a yearlong program designed to prepare participants for more prominent roles in the community, also attends. The public officials typically travel at the expense of taxpayers. The trip in September is estimated to cost between $650 and $700 per person.
The City Tours over the years have visited mountain resorts across the West, including throughout Colorado and into states like Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. But Rademan argues that Park City’s growth over the past 20 years and its vicinity to Salt Lake City has left the community with fewer similarities to mountain resorts than it once had. Last year’s outing went to the Colorado cities of Fort Collins and Estes Park.
He noted that City Tours have stopped in cities larger than Park City like Boise, Idaho, Grand Junction, Colo., and Bozeman, Mont. The trip has also been to Reno, Nev., and the Lake Tahoe region along the Nevada-California border, two other gambling destinations.
"We’re really much larger than most of the resorts," he said. "We’re a hybrid now."
A more detailed itinerary will be finalized as the trip nears. The group will spend much of the first day and much of the last day driving from and to Park City. There is usually free time for sightseeing, shopping and recreation activities, and evenings are normally spent on the town wherever the trip’s destination.
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A group of Park City residents on Monday night criticized the prospects of City Hall developing a workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town. The people at a Marsac Building event raised a range of issues.