Chinese gamblers can enjoy direct flights from Beijing to Las Vegas now that US officials have signed off on the plan.
On Monday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) confirmed that the US Department of Transportation had officially approved the application by China’s Hainan Airlines to offer the first-ever nonstop flights between the two countries.
The flights will commence on Dec. 2 and travel agents and websites have already started taking bookings. The service, which will utilize Hainan Airlines’ fleet of 787 Dreamliner aircraft, will be offered three times per week.
While international guests made up only 16% of Vegas visitors in 2015, Vegas casinos are eager to lure Chinese tourists, not the least because they rank #1 in terms of their willingness to spend money while traveling.
The Hainan Airlines news comes just days after casino operator Caesars Entertainment announced that it had launched a hotel booking function on China’s mega-popular social networking app WeChat. Users can book rooms using Chinese currency via the app’s WeChat Pay function.
As of Sept. 15, WeChat’s 806m monthly active users can book any of the nearly 24k hotel rooms at Caesars’ nine Vegas properties without having to go through a travel agent or tour operator. Caesars plans to add the rest of its US properties to the app within the next two years.
Caesars VP of International Marketing Bruce Bommarito said this extension of its WeChat partnership would help “capture the potential of the country’s rapidly growing leisure travel market.” WeChat’s head of marketing Juliet Zhu said her company was proud to provide companies with “an ideal platform for success with our huge user base and all-in-one services.”
Caesars is the first US casino operator to take the WeChat direct booking plunge but it most certainly won’t be the last.