Las Vegas Launches Lighter-Than-Air Tourist Attraction

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Las Vegas visitors now can fly in a tethered helium balloon to enjoy a view 500 feet above the Strip. The new business, called Cloud Nine, launched last Thursday, and claims to operate the largest balloon of its kind in the world. The 70-foot-tall balloon can carry up to 30 passengers at a time, at about $25 each for a 10-minute flight. The Las Vegas Sun, in its report on the new venture, noted that the company has some tough competition -- an observation deck at the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas is 460 feet high and charges just $10, and the Stratosphere hotel has a deck at 1,149 feet for just a $16 admission. A blimp operator that offered tours around the city about 10 years ago was unable to make a go of it, according to the Sun. But Cloud Nine CEO Kevin Michaels seems confident. "We've got 40 million people that come here on an annual basis. I thought it was a great opportunity for the visitors and the 2 million locals, alike," he told the Sun.

Michaels spent two years working to get the project off the ground, and hopes to expand to other tourist destinations such as Hawaii, California, Mexico, and Europe.