Las Vegas on Thursday is beginning one of its most intense seasons of the year to celebrate the 203rd anniversary of "El Grito," which marked the start of the fight for Mexico's independence, an event that attracts to the Nevada city thousands of tourists from the United States' southern neighbor.

For the celebration, the city, hotels and businesses have organized a series of events to extol Mexican culture and with which local authorities are seeking to continue positioning Las Vegas as one of the most attractive U.S. tourist destinations.

After Canadians, Mexicans constitute the largest group of foreign visitors to the entertainment center, Ericka Aviles, the business marketing and management chief for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, or LVCVA, told Efe.

Aviles said that between now and next Sunday 22 daily flights will be added to the 20 regularly scheduled ones that land here each day from Mexico, and direct routes from various places in Mexico will be opened up, to allow thousands of foreign tourists to participate in the "El Grito" activities.

The tourists from the neighboring country, she added, will be welcomed to the sounds of Mexican music at the airport and at different spots around the city, which will have an assortment of entertainment and other offerings specially set up all over for the celebration.

"In Las Vegas, we're very excited to welcome more than 6,000 Mexicans who will come to celebrate 'El Grito' this weekend," Aviles said.

She added that Las Vegas offers different activities that range from shopping and gastronomy to boxing, concerts and all kinds of shows for the Mexican tourists, who each year - not counting the money they shell out on gaming - spend an average of $1,146 during their stay in the city.

Among the attractions being readied for the celebration are concerts by singer Luis Miguel at Caesars Palace starting Thursday and running through Sept. 15, as well as those offered by singers Marco Antonio Solis, Marc Anthony and Chayanne, who will present their "Gigant3s" show on Friday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

In addition, Latino jazz virtuoso Pancho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band will perform on Friday and Saturday, while the legendary Arturo Sandoval, one of the most famous jazz trumpet-players in the world, will bring his Cuban-American sound to The Orleans Hotel and Casino on Saturday.

The Mexican band Mana, the winner of multiple Grammy Awards, will perform their greatest hits on Sunday at the MGM Garden Grand Arena.

In the same venue, lovers of boxing on Saturday will be able to see the bout between undefeated Mexican pugilist Canelo Alvarez and Josesito Lopez in the "Knockout Kings" fight series for the World Boxing Council's Super Welterweight title.

In addition, current champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. that same day will fight Argentina's Sergio Gabriel Martinez, former WBC and World Boxing Organization middleweight champion, at the Thomas and Mack Center.

On Saturday, the party will move out into the streets of downtown Las Vegas with The Fiesta Las Vegas Latino Parade and Festival, the largest Latino parade and festival in southern Nevada and at which Mexican singer Graciela Beltran will be the parade's grand marshal.

Also, mariachi music will be offered on Saturday at the International Mariachi Festival, a gathering of the best musicians at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino that will feature Shaila Durcal, Vargas de Tecalitlan, Jose Hernandez's Mariachi Sol de Mexico group and Mariachi Divas.

According to the LVCVA, Las Vegas welcomes 39 million visitors per year but in 2012 authorities are expecting 40 million. To accommodate and entertain them, the city is working on an intense campaign that seeks to make the destination even more attractive as a tourist and leisure center for the international market.

"El Grito" commemorates the incident on the morning of Sept. 16, 1810, when Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued a call to Mexicans to take up arms against Spain and fight for independence, which was finally achieved in 1821. EFE