Las Vegas nowadays is quite a different place compared to some decades ago. Las Vegas represents not only gaming, but business and conferences," Nagamine said during a brief interview. "It should be known to the Japanese people."
Las Vegas has had a presence in Japan for more than 20 years, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The agency spends about us$ 750,000 to us$ 1 million annually marketing Las Vegas in Japan and the country is the fourth-largest source for international visitation, after Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks sent foreign visitation to the United States into a tailspin, Nagamine said, about 500,000 Japanese people visited Nevada annually, mostly to come to Las Vegas.
The most recent big Las Vegas marketing push in Japan came in February 2008, when a delegation of about 100 people from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and several resort companies visited the island nation.
But Japanese visitation still hasn’t recovered to peak levels and is now only about 160,000 annually, said Nagamine, whose current figure was in line with the authority’s estimate of 155,000. "I would like to encourage them to come over," he said. He’s also keen to encourage Nevadans to return the favor and visit Japan for sightseeing or consider it as a place to do business.
Nagamine said there are numerous Japanese companies doing work in Las Vegas. He cited the Konami Corp. which supplies machines for the gambling industry and mechanical parts maker Japan Machinery Co. as examples. In addition to welcoming Blakely to her new position as a Nevada point-of-contact for the Japanese consulate, he met with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.
Nagamine acknowledged the sudden and drastic downturn of the global economy will be a setback for international business. But he said face-to-face meetings and conventions remain critical even as teleconferences and video communication become more commonplace. "Of course you can get information through the Internet, but coming to the place and talking to people and seeing the area is very important," he said.
In addition to meeting with Goodman, Nagamine attended an event Thursday evening at the Monte Carlo with about 200 guests, including Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki.