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Hospitality And Leisure Industry

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New Zealand has welcomed the first cruise ship to return since the coronavirus pandemic began, signaling a long-sought return to normalcy for the nation’s tourism industry. New Zealand closed its borders in early 2020 as it sought at first to eliminate COVID-19 entirely and then later to control its spread. Although the country reopened its borders to most tourists arriving by plane in May, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that it lifted all remaining restrictions, including those on maritime arrivals. Many in the cruise industry question why it took so long.

The trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos named a veteran casino executive as its new president. Mark Giannantonio has more than 35 years’ experience in the casino industry, and has been president and CEO of Resorts casino since 2012. Before that, he was president and CEO of the Tropicana in Atlantic City. The Casino Association of New Jersey's role is to advocate for Atlantic City’s casinos, including in interactions with state legislators on issues of interest to the casinos and the resort as a whole. The industry has made a big push to return to pre-pandemic business levels, with millions spent on renovations and new attractions in recent months.

A Black family says racism prompted a suburban Kansas City water park to cancel a private pool party for their son's birthday. Chris Evans, of Lee's Summit, says he signed a contract to have the party with about 250 guests for his 17-year-old son's birthday on Saturday at the Summit Waves park in Lee's Summit. But an official with the park told the family when they arrived that the party was canceled. The city's Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the water park, said Tuesday that officials had apologized to the family over miscommunications. It said the party was canceled solely out of concern for safety because of the potential size of the party.

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Atlantic City casino dealers opposed to smoking indoors are rejecting an idea being floated among state legislators to create designated outdoor smoking areas that employees could opt out of staffing. Pete Naccarelli, a Borgata dealer and a leader of a group of Atlantic City casino workers pushing for a full indoor smoking ban, says the opt-out suggestion is not the solution to protecting workers and customers. A bill to ban smoking inside casinos has sat untouched in the state Legislature since February. An identical bill died in last year’s session, even though Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will sign it.

A Utah-based resort company that owns several ski areas has made a bid to buy Jay Peak, the Vermont ski resort that was rocked by a massive fraud case involving its former owner and president. The court-appointed receiver who has been overseeing Jay Peak since 2016 is seeking court approval to sell it for $58 million to Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. The company owns Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire and Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Colorado. Receiver Michael Goldberg wrote in the court filing Monday that he wants to be able to continue to market Jay Peak and an auction would be held if there are qualified bids.

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Joe Lupo, who has helped two of Atlantic City’s most successful casinos thrive through years of market turbulence, will run the Mirage Hotel & Casino once Hard Rock buys the Las Vegas property from MGM Resorts International. Hard Rock says Lupo will become president of the casino once the sale is completed and approved by Nevada gambling regulators. He is currently president of Hard Rock’s Atlantic City casino, which has become one of the city’s top-performing casinos since opening in 2018. He will be succeeded in Atlantic City by the casino's current general manager, Anthony Faranca, on Sept. 1.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the husband of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn were given shares of a company that leased slot machines to a North Carolina tribal casino. The casino run by the Catawba Indian Nation in South Carolina needed political help to open last year. The newspaper reported that John Clyburn introduced backers of the project to people he knew and never discussed it with his brother. The newspaper reported that Michael Haley's company did physical and cybersecurity consulting for the project in 2018. A spokesperson for Nikki Haley told the newspaper she did not advocate for casino.

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Atlantic City casino workers are getting substantial raises and the gambling halls will enjoy four years of labor peace now that all nine casinos have reached new contracts with the main employee union. Thursday afternoon, the Golden Nugget reached agreement with Local 54 of the Unite Here union on a new contract. It's the last of the city’s casinos to ink a deal. The deal gives housekeepers a $22 hourly rate in the fourth year of the contract. It also removes any chance of a strike for the next four years. That's an important consideration for Atlantic City’s casino industry as it tries to return to pre-pandemic business levels.

Officials say funding is available to help boost the Kentucky tourism industry, which saw a decline in visitors with the coronavirus pandemic.  Gov. Andy Beshear’s office said Monday in a statement that the state will allocate $75 million over the next several weeks to help eligible tourism organizations that apply and show the impact of the virus. The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act. Officials said $25 million will go to local tourism commissions to market their communities, $25 million will be used to attract conventions and meetings, $15 million will go toward statewide marketing and $10 million will be available for multicounty collaborations.

The state labor department says Alaska had about 7,900 more jobs last month than in June 2021. But it says most industries still fell short of their job numbers three years earlier, before the pandemic. The labor department report shows the leisure and hospitality industry continued seeing strong year-over-year growth, with about 3,700 more jobs last month than in June 2021. But the industry had about 4,600 fewer jobs than in June 2019. Sectors that were at or above job levels from June 2019 included construction and health care. An economist with the department describes the state of the economy as OK.

Pennsylvania has set a new annual record for gambling revenue, rising above $5 billion for the first time amid surging betting on online casino games and a post-pandemic return to the casinos’ slot machines and table games. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Tuesday that casinos and other operators won more than $5 billion from gamblers in the 12 months through June 30. That was about 30% higher than the $3.9 billion recorded in the previous fiscal year, and slightly above the previous calendar year high of $4.7 billion reported in January. Pennsylvania has been neck-and-neck with New Jersey for No. 2 in gambling revenue behind Nevada.

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The Orlando amusement park where a teenager fell from a ride and died earlier this year has paused a new sniper-like laser shooting game amid criticisim following recent mass shootings. The Bullseye Blast game let riders of the 400-foot Wheel at ICON Park shoot laser blasters at targets in the park. Officials said while the ride was “well-received” by customers, some had questioned whether it was appropriate following mass shootings at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb, a Texas elementary school and a New York grocery store. Earlier this year, the park closed its Free Fall tower after a Missouri teen fell to his death.

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