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How to draw tourists back after tragedies

Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Travel News

A television ad featuring tennis legend and Las Vegas resident Andre Agassi, which pays tribute to the strength of shooting victims and first responders, has been running since the shooting.

"For the time being, we're continuing to listen to our customers on an ongoing basis and taking community and visitor sentiment into consideration as we think about our next campaign steps and the eventual return to the 'What Happens in Vegas' campaign," said Maria Phelan, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

In Napa Valley, the local tourism agency, Visit Napa Valley, told local businesses that it had launched a two-phase campaign:

"Phase 1 is designed as an expression of strength, hope and understanding to all of those affected by these wildfires and their devastating aftermath," according to an email sent out by Visit Napa Valley to businesses in the region. "Once the fires are under control and air quality improves, we will move to Phase 2, which will be designed as an open for business/welcome back message."

To help with the recovery, Beteta said, the Grateful Table fundraiser has been scheduled for Nov. 21, featuring a gourmet meal served to about 750 guests by celebrity chef Tyler Florence on a long table in the middle of a vineyard.

She said the event will be featured in a 60-minute film documentary about the fires to show that most vineyards are unscorched.

"You have to look pretty hard to see where that fire was," Beteta said.

Since Hurricane Harvey struck Houston in August, the city's tourism agency has been promoting travel packages to the city, with the profits from each deal used to boost relief efforts in Houston.

Although coverage of the recent World Series showed a national audience images of downtown Houston with thriving shops and businesses, Houston's tourism agency, Visit Houston, plans to stick with its message of recovery for the rest of the year.


"We are slowly moving back to the message that Houston is a great city to visit," said Leah Shah, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Some other tourist destinations struck by disaster have already skipped past the message of rebuilding and recovery.

Tourism officials in Mendocino County, where wildfires raged last month, have launched a campaign that promotes November as "mushroom month," a time when visitors can forage for mushrooms with fungi experts, take a class on how to cook with mushrooms and enjoy special mushroom-packed meals at local restaurants and eateries.

"What is coming up is to promote a positive vein," said Koleen C. Hamblin, a spokeswoman for Visit Mendocino County. "The fire is behind us."

The motto for the month, she said, is: "Keep calm and mushroom on."

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