Photo: Wetlands Park
I have mixed feelings about Las Vegas, but what it does right few people talk about and what it does wrong locals don’t think visitors need to know about. It’s still a challenge to listen to locals downtown. There are attractions, points of interest, downloadable maps, but no regularly scheduled guided walks. Responsible travel as understood and sold elsewhere is unknown here.
What sets Las Vegas apart from most anywhere else is the abundance of short-term visitors. The city draws 40 million+ visits per year, many repeat visitors smitten with the diamond in the desert.
Online Conversation of the Week
The online conversation of the week unfolds as a real time tweetchat hosted by RTTC focusing on responsible travel in all its wonders and stories. This week the focus turned to responsible tourism in Las Vegas. Here are the questions (in bold) and my responses, lightly edited from the Wednesday, November 11 chat.
6:00 AM & PM GMT: Q1 Is ‘#ResponsibleTourism in #LasVegas’ a contradiction in terms? via @vickysmith #RTTC
A1. Ask a local: ‘what does responsible travel mean to you?’ and you’ll get a blank stare. This is not linguistically embedded in the city parlance. Ask about the specifics – creating city parks or bike lanes, promoting water conservation – and you’ll spark a wide ranging and heated discussion. Responsible travel in Las Vegas in no more contradictory than responsible travel in any place. It’s a matter of degrees and what we could be paying attention are what locals think import. Educate and engage visitors. How? That’s part of this very discussion.
6:10 AM & PM GMT: Q2 What are the biggest sustainability issues that #LasVegas faces? #irresponsibletourism via @vickysmith #RTTC
A2. Top issue is education – how does the city manage education, from grade school and universities? There are serious red flags which signal opportunities for those who can connect responsible travel to matters of mutual interest of locals and visitors.
6:20 AM & PM GMT: Q3 Does the excessive #food waste from buffets mean a RT should avoid them even though they’re SO cheap? via @brandyleebell #RTTC
A3. Must-Read: The Pigs That Eat at Las Vegas
We need to know more of course behind the scenes in the kitchens. Yes, it means going to more buffets but we’ll go the better ones. Responsible travel shouldn’t mean a yes-no binary response. Grey is the new black.
6:30 AM & PM GMT: Q4 Is the mentality of excess in #LasVegas dangerous for tourists? How so/not so? via @brandyleebell #RTTC
A4. Whose excess? And at some level, isn’t excess part of the local personality? Visitors come to gamble, some better than others. If Las Vegas were a Star Trek planet (and there’s a story) it would be …
6:40 AM & PM GMT: Q5 What solutions do you have to make #LasVegas a more responsible destination? via @WSEtravel #RTTC
A5 Pay attention to specific issues over time. Blend grassroots events, responsible travel and education
Listen to locals. And locals listen to Twitter! Someone’s talking about you.
To create and support grassroots events and educational opportunities that are truly world-class and world famous.
Responsible travel is not an ethical dilemma of whether to have fun or be responsible. We can do both!
6:50 AM & PM GMT: Q6 Is there specific accommodation/tour providers/restaurants you can suggest are more responsible in #Vegas? How so? via @vickysmith #RTTC
A6 Bicycle shops! There are several top-of-the-line stores but local fave is the Bike Shop on 2630 Windmill Parkway. Terry the owner is the must-visit person for anyone keen on cycling and connecting with locals. They hosted the Chocolate Chase.