Sheldon Adelson – the globally respected tourism icon and chairman and CEO of
Las Vegas Sands Corporation – was honored on Monday at the Second Jerusalem
International Tourism Summit, held at Teddy Hall in the Jerusalem International
Adelson, who developed the integrated resorts concept
that enables convention participants to have assorted shopping, dining,
entertainment, gaming and other facilities all under one roof, without having to
leave the hotel, was singled out not only for his achievements in the tourism
industry but also for the boundless philanthropy that characterizes him and his
Before the ceremony, Adelson participated in a “fireside
chat” with broadcast journalist Michael Greenspan, who was also master of
ceremonies on the opening day of the tourism summit.
Greenspan wanted to
know what had prompted Adelson in the direction of integrated resorts, and
perhaps of greater significance, how he had dared the risk of taking his
enterprise to Asia, where business practices and culture are so different from
those of North America.
Adelson reiterated a philosophy espoused a little
earlier in the morning by Las Vegas Sands Corp. president Michael A. Leven, who
spoke of the importance of cooperation between the public and the private
Tourism is tied to the development of the economy and is an
integral part of a peaceful world, said Leven, underscoring that tourism creates
jobs and taxes.
An economic crisis should not be a reason for despondency
but a reason for action, he said, adding that one of the answers to economic
growth is a partnership between the public and private sectors. The government
should not only take dollars from business, but should work with companies to
create ongoing employment, Leven insisted.
Las Vegas Sands had such a
partnership with the government of Singapore in Marina Bay, creating 10,0000
permanent jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs, he said. It could not have happened
without government support and Adelson’s vision, with the main component of the
success stories of Las Vegas Sands investments in both Macau and Singapore being
mutual trust, Leven declared.
Adelson has been challenging the status quo
in the tourism world for a long time. Even before 1979, when he founded COMDEX
(Computer Dealers Exhibition), a computer expo held in different parts of Las
Vegas, he was the biggest customer on the Las Vegas Strip.
He produced a
show in 1978 that he moved from city to city, and after doing a little research
he realized that people attending these shows wanted to have fun at night, but
wanted it to be available without them having to leave the hotel. He brought the
show to Las Vegas, where everything was close at hand, and saw a 50 percent
The trend continued the following year, and Adelson knew that he
was on to something.
“People who go to conventions want to have fun at
night. They want entertainment, restaurants and variety,” he said.
obvious to Adelson – who started working as a boy, and who has been in business
for 58 years – that what was needed was a combination of attractions that come
under the heading of integrated resorts.
What is essential is a large
space that can house all the facilities for a combination of convention
Adelson knew in his heart that if Las Vegas could be picked up
and put on a plane and flown over to Asia, it would succeed. Since he couldn’t
do that, he used the Las Vegas prototype to build in Asia.
In Macau, he
said, there was already a culture of gambling, but they didn’t understand that
you need to bring in other tourism for shopping and sight-seeing.
partnership between the public and private sectors, the public sector is
responsible for building infrastructure, roadways and subways, said Adelson, who
will turn 80 in August.
When Greenspan made a couple of pointed
references to Adelson’s age, Adelson at first said that 80 wasn’t old, and when
Greenspan said something about his soon being 80, a straight-faced Adelson
corrected him and said 60.
He already has plans for large-scale projects
in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, but is more likely to start
building 12 3,000- room properties in Madrid.
The Spanish government is
very supportive, and a name has already been coined for the venture, which will
be known as Euro Vegas. If it goes ahead, it will significantly reduce Spain’s
Adelson and Greenspan also talked about Adelson’s
involvement with Birthright, which by the end of 2012 had brought some 350,000
young adults to Israel.
Some of them were in fact in the audience, and
Leven labeled them “real tourists” because none of them had ever been to Israel
Adelson and his wife have been Birthright devotees for the past
six or seven years, and they’re thrilled about the marriages that have resulted
from these trips.
Adelson related that he was approached by a young woman
who met her husband on a Birthright trip in 2004. It transpired that they lived
five minutes away from each other in California, where they might never have
met. For that, they had to come to Israel.
Adelson and Leven were not the
only Las Vegas Sands people on stage. Three entertainers from the Venetian Macau
resort hotel, dressed in the rich costumes of ancient Venice, gave a spirited
A tough businessman and a philanthropist who has given
away hundreds of millions of dollars to causes in Israel, the United States and
Asia, Adelson – who has been there and done that – was nonetheless sufficiently
emotional, when presented with a sculpture of Jerusalem, to wipe a tear from his