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Las Vegas welcomes its 40 millionth visitor — it thinks

Las Vegas welcomed its 40 millionth visitor on Sunday, making 2014 a record year.

At least, it thinks it welcomed that person. No one really knows exactly when the milestone will be reached or whether it already has.

But entertainers including Penn & Teller randomly surprised tourists with prize packages, and Teller picked out two women from Texas strolling through the Linq promenade on Sunday as the ones that put Las Vegas over the top.

“We’re supposed to know exactly who the 40 millionth is because Teller was supposed to count,” Penn Jillette said.

“He was counting from the beginning of the year and then he lost count at 39 million so now we know that someone in this area now is probably the 40 millionth.”

The women were awarded makeovers at a local salon.

Reaching 40 million visitors a year has been an elusive target for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The recession hit the leisure travel and convention segments hard. The previous peak -- 39.73 million visitors --...

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What will 95 million U.S. holiday travelers look like? You'll find out

Got holiday cheer? You and almost 95 million Americans travelers will need lots of it to sustain you through road traffic and airport security checkpoints between Dec. 23 and Jan. 4.

AAA reports that 4% more of us than last year will be traveling at least 50 miles from home to celebrate the holidays. It's the highest travel volume predicted since the Auto Club began making forecasts in 2001.

Here are some more numbers worth noting as you make travel plans:

--91% of holiday travelers nationwide will be taking a road trip.
--5.7 million travelers nationwide will be flying to their destinations.
--1.1 million drivers will require a AAA rescue for dead batteries, flat tires and getting locked out of your car.
--the cost of hotels are up 4% to 5% over last year, and car rentals have increased 4% to an average $66 a day.
--lowest gas prices in five years show an average $2.55 a gallon.

Los Angeles International Airport announced it's expecting almost 3 million passengers between Dec. 19 and Jan....

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Deal: Sample Canada's best icewines with this pass -- and save

What's the upside to harvesting grapes in freezing temperatures? Icewine, of course, and Canada's Niagara Falls area celebrates with a festival held over three weekends in January.

Those intent on sampling the chilly good stuff should buy a pass that saves 50% on the cost of individual tastings.

The deal: The Niagara Icewine Festival will mark its 20th year in 2015. During the wintry harvest, grapes aren't  picked until temperatures plummet to around 18 degrees.

Regardless of when the harvest begins, the festival goes on.

More than 35 winemakers in Wine Country Ontario open their doors for tastings and specialties such as peaches and triple-cream brie tartlet paired with a 2013 Vidal Icewine, or icewine marshmallows to be roasted over an open fire.

Buy a Discovery Pass for $40 Canadian ($34 U.S.) and you can sample wine and food at eight stops along the Wine Route. You'll take home a souvenir wine glass too. (Download a Discovery Pass Guide for a description of each winery.)


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Drag queens rule at Las Vegas' Rouge & Booze Sunday brunch

Getting out of bed on a Sunday morning can be a drag, but it’s worth it for Vegas visitors who want a unique brunch with entertainment dished up by a troupe of drag queens.

“Rouge & Booze – A Drag Brunch” makes its monthly appearance Sunday at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Café beside the giant guitar at Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue adjacent to the Hard Rock Hotel.

The brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the show starts at 11. The “girls,” who go by names such as Kitty Litter and Ida Slapther (say that one aloud),  sing and dance, and there is audience participation.

Menu items include chicken and waffles, a South of the Border breakfast skillet and hazelnut brandy French toast. Bottomless mimosas cost $20.

Starting in January, the drag brunch will be the second Sunday of each month (Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and so on).

Info: (702) 733-8400.

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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What Obama's new ties with Cuba mean for travelers

Tour operators said they expect to see an uptick in the number of Americans who want to visit Cuba after President Obama announced Wednesday that the United States would reestablish diplomatic ties with the island nation.

"The phones today have been ringing off the hook since Obama took to the airwaves," said Peggy Goldman of Friendly Planet Travel. And the volume of visits to her social media posts about Cuba has multiplied.

Some callers didn't realize that Americans have been able to travel to Cuba on what are called people-to-people exchange trips that are regulated by the U.S. Treasury. Her company leads trips to Havana and other parts of the island.

Katharine Bonner, vice president of Connecticut-based travel company Tauck, also said she expects interest in Cuba to increase.

"This news will make [trips] even more popular because one of the allures of Cuba is that it has been isolated," Bonner said. "Once that isolation falls away, you're going to see American brands there and more...

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Tired of waiting at border crossings? Now, there's an app for that

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a new mobile app that will tell travelers how long they'll have to wait in line at land border crossings to Mexico and Canada.


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