This Lunar New Year, which began on January 28, marks the Year of Rooster. In Chinese culture, roosters are associated with time. The 10th sign of the zodiac, the rooster represents hard work and diligence, as it is always the first to rise. As one of the most popular Chinese tourist spots in the US, Las Vegas will be celebrating the Chinese New Year in grand style, with a packed calendar of events honoring the historical significance and rich culture of this annual 15-day event that the Chinese refer to as “Spring Festival.”
Most resorts and malls in Las Vegas transformed their properties with symbolic displays and elaborate décor. The Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens converted its 14,000-square-foot floral garden into a celebration of the rooster, with a 10-foot animated chicken at the top. The Venetian and the Palazzo displayed a 15-foot-tall fire rooster, which was hand painted before being studded with nearly 70,000 crystals. Professional and local Chinese dancers performed in many resorts. At The LINQ Promenade, a four-day festival took place from January 27-30, which included nightly dragon dances. Many resorts also created special menus to celebrate the occasion; at Wynn-Encore, a popular dim sum brunch was served to meet Chinese tastes.
In 2006, Las Vegas recorded 87,000 tourists from China. Since then, Nevada has seen a 300 percent increase in Chinese visitors. Chinese tourists usually spend more than $1 billion per year in Las Vegas, comprising a significant share of the state's total income from tourism. This year, visitors from China may have a greater impact on the local economy following Hainan Airlines’ launch of the first direct flight between China and Las Vegas in December. Hainan Airlines flights carrying visitors back to China at the end of the holiday run as high as 95 percent occupancy. Additionally, Nevada has witnessed a huge increase in its Chinese and Chinese American populations, from 18,342 to 38,108 between 2000 and 2010.
Xiaoyi Wang is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate student at Georgetown University.