Las Vegas says a marketing strategy to highlight attractions other than gambling is paying off in the economic downturn.

The destination began focusing on attractions such as entertainment, cuisine and sports events two years ago, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority president and chief executive Rossi Ralenkotter.

With the global economy now in turmoil, Ralenkotter said the move away from Vegas’ most famous attraction – gambling – has paid off.

He said: “We want to increase the awareness of all the other attractions. The message of value [for money] to the customer is important.”

This is the first time in 10 yearst that Ralenkotter has attended World Travel Market.

Ralenkotter said the destination received 409,000 UK visitors last year, making the UK its biggest market other than the US, Canada and Mexico. With $3 million available for UK marketing, it is hoped the destination will see similar numbers this year, although Ralenkotter agreed BMI’s recent decision to pull its Manchester-Las Vegas service had caused problems.

More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008