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So, in my Post-Apocalyptic world, there’s a city down in South Nevada known as Vegas. Unlike the rest of the majority of North America, Vegas was not hit by nuclear warheads in its near vicinity. But, over the last 100 years, society in the city has devolved considerably.

Vegas lives in a state of near constant anarchy. The only government-like forces are the families, but they often cause more trouble than they stop, causing gang wars in the streets and political assassinations and such. Mostly, Vegas’s economy consists of prostitutes, gambling, and drugs.

Back far west, in the region of New California, the USC (United States of California) has arisen, and now boasts a large army and strong government. But, like the Vegas of old, these inhabitants, especially the crime families, want tourists, mainly Californian tourists, to come to their city, as they bring valuable currency that can be used to buy more weapons and armaments.

So, my question is, how can you market an anarchic city as a tourism spot to people (mainly people living in civilized government)?

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    $\begingroup$ considering even now vegas cannot feed itself without importing all its food, you might want to ask how it still exists. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 14 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ "Land of total freedom (at your own risk)", or "What you do in Vegas stays in Vegas (but STDs come back with you)". $\endgroup$ – kikirex Apr 14 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ Bethesda called, they want the plot of Fallout: New Vegas back. $\endgroup$ – Renan Apr 14 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ Let's see... Lawless New Vegas is under control of four families (besides some non-family centered gangs), and is in conflict with an opressive military state called New California Republic. Also the post-nuclear setting. $\endgroup$ – Renan Apr 14 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ What you are describing is not an anarchic city, but a city in the grip of multiple competing hierarchies. Anarchy means a lack of hierarchies, not a surfeit of them. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 14 at 15:23

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Organized Tours

If the Families can agree to jointly fund and protect a tourist agency (or at least agree not to gun them down), the agency can setup organized tours for adventure seekers.

Our modern-day Vegas has hotels, casinos, restaurants, and shows. Any tourist can just show up and enjoy what the city has to offer (which even today is quite possibly "prostitutes, gambling, and drugs"). But post-apocalypse Vegas isn't ready for that.

Bus in each group from Los Angeles (or partner with a New Californian company and do a bus switch at the border) then give them a 5 day (or whatever length) worldwind tour of historic Vegas.

Set them up in set-aside floor of a building that used to be a hotel (use whatever real or made-up story about that hotel's history you want), feed them well, and take them out daily to a variety of places that fit the theme of the tour. Use plenty of security (and costume them well).

Bus them back to California and bring in the next set of tourists.

One hundred years isn't long enough to lose all the stories of Vegas floating around. Play those up and mix them with exclusive tours. People will line up. You can increase the number of tours later, but your target audience will still think of them as hard to get.

If the tours are successful (no deaths), eventually some old hotels and restaurants can be opened up to general tourists. Perhaps they're open as such now, but they'll be perceived as safe (or safe enough). There can still be docent-led tours with security staff if the tourists want to go outside the "safe" zone.

Play up the danger element, but reassure people that you'll take care of them. That combo is irresistible to many who will love for you to take their money. For others, just the change to see beautiful old buildings that weren't bombed into smithereens is worth a small amount of risk.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow. I missed all mention of a bounty being set up. Many thanks to whoever thought well enough of my answer to award it. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Apr 23 at 19:52
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Do you have a genuine anarchy or is it more a tribal or organized crime setting?

  • The "families" do not want any city government to interfere with their business.
  • The "families" want to do business with each other, so in the absence of law they must gain a reputation for keeping their word, and for punishing betrayals.
  • The "families" want tourists to spend money.

So they put the word out, first within the family and then on the street -- anyone who touches a tourist without explicit permission from a family boss will suffer. Not for breaking the law, but for costing the family face.

Tourists might still be at a higher risk than in a truly law-abiding town, but to balance that they can buy all the sin they want. The rules don't protect the locals, unless the locals have family connections. In your setting, kinky demands are a matter of price.

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  • $\begingroup$ More like a near-anarchy with the families patrolling the more “touristy” areas like the Strip and Fremont $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Apr 14 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Its about as close to anarchy as you can get in something as big a city. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 14 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ @John, the possibility or impossibility of anarchy is hotly debated, just like the exact definition. I tend to agree. People form groups, groups have rules (written or unwritten), then it isn't anarchy any more. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Apr 14 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ well anarchy works fine in small groups, many hunter gather societies afit the definition of anarchy, but once the population is so large many people are complete strangers you need something besides blind trust keeping people civil. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 14 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @John, that isn't anarchy, it is between family and tribal. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Apr 15 at 5:02
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Vegas is beautiful.

All that Road Warrior post apocalyptic wasteland Fallout stuff. Bah. It is like a stew that has pepper as its only spice. Nothing wrong with pepper but your fiction has plenty of that.

Make New Vegas clean and beautiful; an oasis in the desert. The competing families are Mormon families, with family values and they all promote that as a reason Vegas is safe and fun for visitors. Just like people might trust a Jewish diamond shop because it is run by Jews, so people trust Mormon gambling and prostitution houses because of the reputation for tables that are fair and prostitutes that are clean. Some proselytizing goes on of course but the Mormons are good at it and keep that aspect of Vegas at a low volume.

The blood and killing is an unpleasant cost of business, not personal and they do their best to clean up quick and keep collateral damage to a minimum.

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    $\begingroup$ Whilst i do not disagree with your answer, i do question if people would be more willing to go to the city just because it is run by Mormons (or Latter Day Saints) rather than, say, Sikh’s or Catholics. Whilst some people may be more willing, its not a universal feeling, especially among the younger generation (which, on the whole, is more accepting of others than previous generations). Personally i wouldn’t feel more drawn to visit a city run by Latter Day Saints in the same way i wouldn’t feel less drawn to visit one run by Sikh’s. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 14 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @LiamMorris You are right; nothing special about Mormons / Vegas enterprises except there are lots of them in the American west and Vegas already. This is future fiction not at all my idea about how the world is now. I hoped Mormon mafia Vegas would be a little bit of a curveball and unexpected. $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 14 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ I fully understand your reasoning and why you chose Mormons as your example. However, i just felt the need to point that out for future readers in an attempt to make your answer more applicable to other scenarios (such as if someone was doing a similar thing but in New York, or England or Asia). $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Apr 14 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ This is certainly an interesting twist! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 14 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ @LiamMorris, it's curious that you ask that. Salt Lake City is in a desert, and yet people not of the LDS faith flocked to it because of its clean streets and pleasant society (in the 40s-60s). Today the city is little different from any other western-U.S. city. Willk's answer has a basis in historical fact. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 14 at 18:06
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I think you answered it yourself:

Unlike the rest of the majority of North America, Vegas was not hit by nuclear warheads in its near vicinity.

Even though the citizens of the USC live somewhat comfortably and securely under an organized government, they are unfamiliar with real pre-war cities. They live in stable and secure towns and cities of their own, but many things have changed since the war and cities in the USC just don't match the grandeur and scale of pre-war cities. In fact for many tourists from the USC, visiting Vegas skews their perception of pre-war society and their impression is that before the war cities were much more dangerous and anarchic. In their minds society has settled into peace and order only under the stable hand of the USC government. But in any case, they see the trip as visiting a real pre-war city and the danger is almost expected as part of the experience - "that's just how pre-war cities are."

For others who couldn't care less about seeing a living pre-war city, the same thing draws them to Vegas as anyone present day. Drugs, prostitution, gambling are all effectively limited or outlawed by the USC, and so many people are willing to risk their safety for a hedonistic binge every once in a while in Vegas. Despite the fact that the policing forces don't really protect tourists, and that there is occasional open combat in the streets, chances of dying in Vegas are statistically quite low for a tourist and it's worth it for an experience they won't find in New California.

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causing gang wars in the streets and political assassinations and such. Mostly, Vegas’s economy consists of prostitutes, gambling, and drugs.

So basically, the major change is that assassinations are now hitting the body instead of the character, and everything else is mostly as before, maybe a bit pronounced?

Which means the reasons for your tourists are still the very same:

It's Vegas, baby!

There just isn't any other place like it in what's left of the civilized world. Even more so than before. If you want all the things you can get (only) in Vegas, you have to got to Vegas.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

You don't describe what your post-apocalyptic society looks like, but large army and strong government sounds like a police state in the making, so its inhabitants would certainly welcome an opportunity to do ... things. Things that might be illegal, or considered unethical or just frowned upon in their homes. Where probably populations are now smaller which means less anonymity, which means your reputation is more valuable again. Basically: If you're caught cheating on your wife with a prostitute while doing drugs you can't just move to a different neighbourhood and nobody will know you there. But in Vegas...

There's plenty of reasons for people to visit your Vegas, and they aren't much different from the reasons today.

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The target of such tourism is people that are attracted to what Vegas can give, and have the power to take care of themselves:

  1. They can engage in many activies that would be considered illegal in New California (something that might be extra appealing for the rich)

  2. They boast higher technology than Vegas and are therefore not phased by the threat low level criminals might bring.

  3. They are rich and therefore have the same social status as the 'families'. They are similarly overbearing, proud and arrogant. They do what they like. They might even find it fun putting some 'criminals' in their place.

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A resort in the middle of the city.

A mid-sized resort where people can "look" at the city's chaos, abuse, and anarchy, be it with binoculars, cameras on screens, or any other apparatus or sci-fi-ish mechanism, all of this enbaled by the families, of course. They keep the show running, and people keep pouring in to watch "the spectacle" (So unciviliced!) Reminds me of something similar from the videogame MadWorld, for the Wii. I'm sure there's other similar examples in media.

You could pair this with tours, as other answers have suggested, for a truly detached experience for the tourists. It's like a play for them. Like watching animals at a zoo. That could give for an interesting world perspective, as well. (Commentary, or something?)

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What about some sort of fusion of concepts from Discworld and Westworld? The excessively rich can come and live out their fantasy in this haven of crime and unrest (Westworld). The 'families' agree that an influx of money is important so they form an agreement that the tourists can obtain licensed tourist status (more money) and be immune from the harder crimes that they might otherwise be vulnerable (the inverse of the Thieves Guild approach).

They could also offer ride-along/internship type holidays where they get to participate in the running of the 'families'.

All of this of course with large insurance premiums and airtight contracts. It might be small number of tourists can afford this method but they would be whales!

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Bit of a nitpick, but what you are describing is more 'chaotic' or a 'failed state' than 'anarchic'. But anyways,...

how can you market an anarchic city as a tourism spot to people

You answered your own question. By promoting...

prostitution, gambling, and drugs.

People going to Vegas in 2019 certainly aren't going there for the bible classes, after all.

Other possible motivations:

  • Cheaper medicine or medical care, or to access medical services that are unavailable in California (in a sci-fi context, this could mean illegal cybernetics).
  • Perhaps its cheaper consumer goods (no sales tax, hard to find items).
  • Some people are going back to visit family.
  • Sometimes its just a rite of passage for a group of guys.

So long as your tourists are reasonably safe if they behave themselves and don't stick their noses where they don't belong, there will be a constant appeal to visiting.

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If it is an "anarchy" (<= definition not relevant to my answer) there is nobody who would even want to market the city. That would require some sort of a centralized tourism agency between the families. That would actually be possible solution as such an agency would have some ability to enforce rules.

But if we assume no centralized authority exists as that seems a part of the premise, then any marketing would be done by the individual families independently of each other. They would not spend resources to promote their competition, they would promote their own tourist traps.

Which would come with concrete walls, checkpoints and armed guards. For the families to be stable at all, they'd necessarily have some ability to protect themselves and establish safe areas for themselves and their families. That implies they can extend the same protection to the tourist traps.

So despite the city in general being unsafe the locations being promoted would actually be quite safe and well managed. They'd also have well preserved pre-apocalypse architecture and furniture. Probably clothing as well. Essentially theme parks for paradise lost. Not to mention gambling, prostitutes, and drugs. And high security comes included in the stay so people who want to have security for private discussions or because of credible death threats would also come.

I do no think you'd need to do much marketing. If you can manage secure transportation to the tourist trap, the value proposition is actually pretty good for anyone not concerned with the price. I guess it would also service as a social gathering place for people not concerned with price to socialize without needing to worry about the plebeians.

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While anarchy can be an impediment to tourism, it does not have to be if

a) Outside society possesses resources to protect themselves while visiting (i.e. the rich hire bodyguards they bring with them). If the nearby established government does not provide adequate internal security, this is likely the case.

b) Bodyguards are for hire within the city. Any tourist who is wealthy enough will hire one and those that don't will bring their own forms of protection. If someone is too stupid for either of these, then they likely get killed or robbed. This would not impact tourism because the thought is that those killed "had it coming."

c) There is something worth the danger to attract people. Being avoided by nukes, Vegas likely already has this quality. If it did not, the reputation of Vegas is such that people would come if prostitution, drugs, and gambling is still available. This is especially true if the nearby government outlaws or restricts any of these things.

d) People can get to the city. This does not need to be caused by any of the families efforts, but can be from outside agencies.

Any of the families can promote one or more of these things to attract tourists, and if these things already exist, the city may have tourists without any effort on the families' part.

However, a family could sabotage the tourism industry by targeting tourists and tourist bodyguards specifically.

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