Air travel is the ticket to bring newcomers to Tahoe |

Air travel is the ticket to bring newcomers to Tahoe

Reno Air and Reno/Tahoe International Airport play crucial roles in Lake Tahoe’s quest to bring non-Northern Californians to the lake.

Tourism authorities specifically target advertising toward cities with direct air service to Reno. Southern California and Texas, for instance, are at the top of the list for advertising by casinos, ski resorts and visitors authorities.

American Airlines and Delta both fly the Dallas-Reno route, Southwest serves Dallas and Houston and Continental on Dec. 15 started service between Reno and Houston, airport spokesman Adam Mayberry said.

Reno-Air doesn’t fly to Texas but several Tahoe groups have a close relationship with the Reno-based airline, which was recently acquired by American.

“Reno Air is an official partner with Ski Lake Tahoe,” said Carl Ribaudo, whose firm manages Ski Lake Tahoe, the joint marketing group for Tahoe’s six largest ski resorts. “The airport has been really helpful. The airport is a strategic tool that really opens the rest of the country.”

Reno-Air helps open the lucrative Southern California market and direct service to Chicago has encouraged several Tahoe entities, especially those that put on conventions.

“We’re finding that (business from) Chicago is growing significantly,” said Emily Salmon, director of leisure sales and marketing at the Resort at Squaw Creek.

Reno Air’s service also boosts tourism in Incline Village, the nearest Tahoe town to Reno/Tahoe Airport.

“There is good air service from Reno Air,” said Vicki McGowen, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau. “That’s really helped us attract the Southern California market.”

Tourism officials realize air service is crucial to build on the lake’s fledgling destination tourism market – people who stay longer than a weekend and usually arrive via airplane.

Reno and Tahoe see the mutual benefits of building Tahoe’s destination market, said Phil McKenney, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

“Reno Air realizes the attraction and Reno realizes the attraction,” McKenney said.

The Airport Authority of Washoe County went as far as to change the airport’s name from Reno-Cannon to Reno-Tahoe in 1994.

Reno Air’s name is added advertising for the region, said Terry Le Ban, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

“Reno Air is a billboard flying around the sky,” Le Ban said. “It has opened up the West Coast for us.”

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