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The total fluke that helped Las Vegas tourism recover after the 2017 shooting




When a city experiences a massive crisis, it must find a way to restore its tourism. All cities rely on tourism – it is often one of the top revenue-generating industries and employs one of the biggest workforces.

Vegas Strong

On Sunday, October 1st, 2017, a gunman sprayed bullets into a crowd of concert-goers in Las Vegas.
58 people were killed. 851 were injured. All but six of the dead were tourists.

It was the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in modern U.S. history.

Cathy Tull – the Chief Marketing Officer for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority – wasn’t in Las Vegas that night. She was in Italy celebrating her 50th birthday.

A woman lights candles at a vigil on the Las Vegas strip following the mass shooting. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

She got the call about the shooting around 6a.m. Italy time. It was hard to absorb the news – but she had to make some quick decisions.

First – within 45 minutes of the shooting, all Las Vegas advertising was pulled. An astounding feat considering how far and wide Las Vegas advertises.

There was a reason that could happen so quickly.

In a complete fluke of timing, Cathy Tull had completely updated the Las Vegas crisis communication protocol – just the week before. She did it simply because it hadn’t been updated in years.

That utter twist of fate allowed her team to spring into action. Tull flew back to Las Vegas immediately. She convened her team to discuss their communication strategy.

Second on the Las Vegas crisis communication list was that the right tone had to be struck.

So Tull’s team listened intently – taking their cues from the public.

The #VegasStrong hashtag was entirely community-driven. (Hector Torres Photography/Submitted by Sunrise Hospital) Almost immediately, a community-driven sentiment appeared on social media: #VegasStrong.

For any city, tourism is critical for the health of its economy. For many, tourism is the 2nd or 3rd most important revenue generator. For Las Vegas, it was number one.

42 million people had visited Las Vegas the previous year. The entire city is supported by tourism. And the rule is – tourists will only go where they feel safe.

Suddenly, Las Vegas wasn’t safe.

The VegasStrong hashtag was gaining momentum. There was a lot of love and support for Las Vegas starting to pour in.

So Cathy Tull and her team started posting user-generated messages of support on the city’s social media channels. They also determined the city itself needed to hear an emotional message from a trusted voice.

A call was made to Vegas resident and tennis star Andre Agassi – who agreed immediately to voice this message:

With that, Las Vegas instantly received over $3 million in media donations.

Tull and her team realized that tourists still wanted to come to Las Vegas – but wanted to be respectful.

Billboards were put up with the VegasStrong hashtag, saying “We’ve been here for you in the good times. Thank you for being there for us now.”

Cathy Tull’s department produced TV commercials starring celebrities welcoming people back to Vegas.

In the three weeks after the shooting, bookings to Las Vegas plunged by over 20%. Then the cancellations began to slow down.

#VegasStrong was an important rallying cry for the city. But Las Vegas had to be careful its identity didn’t become permanently associated with the tragedy.

Marquees on the strip turned black for 11 minutes (the length of the shooting) one week following the massacre. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images) So Cathy Tull did research to see if the “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” campaign could return.

Research showed that people wanted their Vegas back.

Three months after the tragedy, a new “What Happens in Vegas, Stays In Vegas” television commercial was put on the air.= Overseas tourists were the first to come back.

Convention traffic wobbled a bit. But tourism to Las Vegas began a steady climb.

By March of 2018, visitor volume was only down 1% year over year. It was the second busiest March on record.

As Cathy Tull and her team proved, being prepared is half the battle when tragedy hits.

New York Miracle

When the tragic events of September 11, 2001, unfolded, no one was prepared. New York City is the most visited city in North America.

Understandably, tourism plunged after 9/11.

In the year 2000, a record setting 37.4 million tourists visited New York, contributing $17 billion to the city.

In the first days after 9/11, New York lost $324 million in visitor spending. Broadway lost $5 million in ticket sales that week, and five shows closed. Hotels went from 90% capacity to half empty. Restaurants lost an estimated $6-$10 million a day.

When Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was finally able to turn his attention to his city’s economy, he said, “The best thing you can do for our city is to take in a Broadway show.”

So the casts from the top Broadway shows gathered in Times Square to film this commercial:

The sight of all those actors singing their hearts out in Times Square told the world New York could not be broken. That last line – delivered by Nathan Lane – was a very important message to the world.

Just three weeks after the attack, Mayor Giuliani appeared on the season opener of Saturday Night Live. He called SNL a New York institution and said having the city’s institutions up and running sends a message that New York is open for business.

The city’s convention and visitor’s bureau started running print ads saying New York was “Stronger Than Ever.”

Next, advertising agency BBDO offered to write and produce six television commercials – worth more than $10 million – for no charge – in less than a month. Music companies, film crews and editors all offered their services for free.

The campaign featured well-known New York celebrities – who also donated their time.

First, the city began to enjoy what has been termed “patriotic tourism.” Fellow Americans started showing their support by visiting New York again. It would take two years of marketing to attract international tourism back again.

The turning point was 2003 – New York saw its first spike in tourists – 38 million people visited. Then in 2010, a record 48 million people came.

Last year – 17 years after the worst terrorist tragedy on American soil – over 60 million people visited New York City.

It was the eighth consecutive year of record tourism.

For these stories and more from Under The Influence, click or tap on the “Listen” tab to hear the full episode.

You can also find us on the CBC Radio app or subscribe to our Podcast.

Under The Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio – a 1969 Airstream trailer that’s been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O’Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

Follow the journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and search for the hashtag: #Terstream.


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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day




The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat




In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic




TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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