(Lorraine Hunt-Bono) – We won’t have stable and consistent revenue sources for government until we have stable and consistent job and business opportunities for all Nevadans.
As I read about the current “new” studies used to analyze and determine a Vision Plan to restructure Nevada’s tax revenue system and provide stable and consistent revenue sources to fund local and state government, I wondered if those proposing these new studies realize that we have volumes of prior studies gathering dust on shelves in the Carson City archive rooms.
When unemployment is soaring and people are losing their jobs, when businesses are going bankrupt and closing their doors, there cannot be stable and consistent revenues for anyone.
Stop the Bleeding
Before we can save and restore the patient to health, we must stop the bleeding.
Any senior government fiscal analyst could tell you (if you persuaded him or her with truth serum or water-boarding) that for stable and consistent revenues, government must have the flexibility to respond to fiscal crisis by reducing spending, eliminating nonessential and redundant services, and the ability to redirect available revenues to essential services like public health and safety, education, and transportation. We must exhibit fiscal discipline and live within our means.
On the Rebound
Las Vegas and Nevada’s economy will rebound. When it does, we must be prepared to aggressively tackle the issue of building upon our current primary economic engine — tourism — and the global opportunities it gives us to diversify based on our existing strengths.
In the myriad studies completed over the last several decades, our strengths have been identified, and the list has been growing. They include:
* A world-class gaming, recreation, and resort industry
* An entrepreneurial culture that encourages the formation of new enterprises.
* A physical infrastructure, including air and surface transportation, as well as highly competitive Internet access.
* Exceptional climate.
* A tradition of partnering across sectors and regions.
* A large federal R & D presence.
* An adjacency to the world-class technology corridor of the Pacific Coast.
* Alternative energy resources.
Our strengths define our opportunities. Our opportunities can define our vision and our plan.
I will briefly touch on one opportunity based on our strengths of having a world-class, gaming, recreation, and resort industry, along with an exceptional climate and a top-notch infrastructure, including global air transportation.
Building on our globally renowned gaming and resort industry, Las Vegas and Nevada has the opportunity to become a world leader in medical tourism. Medical tourists are people who travel outside their home locale for healthcare services, and these healthcare trips have grown over the last several years. While away from home, they also engage in tourist activities with their spouses and families.
In the United States alone, there are 77 million baby-boomers, all seeking to live a better and healthy life. Boomers are preparing for retirement, love to travel, and enjoy comfort and first-class services. Healthcare trips are slated to increase for this group as travel companies will offer “healthcare services away from home,” combining vacation, recreation, shopping, and entertainment experiences in a luxury, major destination environment. Additionally, in recent years, baby boomers recorded the highest travel volume in the United States.
Shopping, entertainment, sightseeing, dining, and gambling can be packaged enticingly and marketed to the world, highlighting Las Vegas and Nevada as premiere destinations, where a vacation can be planned combining preventative health care and cost-effective and competitive healthcare procedures with state-of-the-art medical facilities. And all this in cutting-edge medical boutique hotels in a world-class vacation setting.
New studies are NOT the answer to provide stable and consistent revenue sources for our local and states governments. New JOBS and new BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES are.
In Nevada we have some of the most visionary entrepreneurial thinkers in the global business world. We know our unique strengths. The vision is here for those who have the ability to see it.
Starting in the New Year, I will address other tourism opportunities, as well as prospects that exist due to:
* A large federal research and development presence in our state
* Our adjacency to the top-notch Pacific Coast technology corridor
* Alternative Energy Resources
* …and more
In the meantime, enjoy the holidays. Be Santa to someone less fortunate than you and appreciate and spend quality time with your family and friends. Buon Natale!
(Mrs. Hunt-Bono is a Commissioner on the Nevada Commission on Tourism and a former Lieutenant Governor)