Irish tour operators in the North American market have been responding to the shooting incident at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas throughout the early hours of this morning.
None has reported Irish casualties from the attack, in which at least 50 people were killed and over 400 injured in an attack by a lone gunman, who was believed to be firing from an upper floor of the hotel at concert-goers attending a country music event. The Irish operators’ emphasis has been on contacting clients to make sure they’re safe, and provide peace of mind for their loved ones back home here in Ireland through this.
Families with friends or relatives in Las Vegas can only contact the Department of Foreign Affairs‘ Consular Assistance Unit on 01 4082527.
“We had two sets of people who were actually at the concert and they were quite traumatised but safe,” said John Devereux, head of American Holidays in Dublin.
“We had 188 clients in Las Vegas and we’ve just about got in touch with everybody now to know they’re all okay,” he said. “Some of the clients, particlarly the ones who were at the concert, want to leave Las Vegas as soon as possible and we try to facilitate that if they want to leave early if we possibly can.”
Mr Devereux said there was confusion in the immediate hours after the attack. “There was a lot of confusion when it happened. People didn’t know quite the extent of it whether it was a terrorist attack or whatever and you had a lot of people who couldn’t go back to their hotels.”
Mary McKenna, head of Tour America, speaking earlier to Travel Extra, echoed the view that there had been confusion, and many people in the city hadn’t even been aware of the attack, given that it happened late in the night. Tour America has been in contact with one client, and sent texts to all the others to get in touch, with Mary McKenna adding that a call in the early hours “at four or five in the morning would give an awful fight”.
“We have about 40 or 50 customers there and have staff there in the States too, so this is where they become really important.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “I strongly condemn the attack at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas. This was a savage and brutal attack targeting innocent festival-goers. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences and those of the Irish people to the families of the victims, those who were injured and to the people and the authorities of the United States on this tragic day.
“As of now, we have no indications to suggest that any Irish citizens have been affected. I am conscious, however, that it will take time before all of the casualties are identified. My Department, through our Consulate General in San Francisco and the Honorary Consulate in Las Vegas, is continuing to monitor the situation.”