Nevada visitor volume tops 50 million |

Nevada visitor volume tops 50 million

Jeff Munson

Nevada welcomed a record 50.5 million visitors in 2004, a milestone for the state’s tourism industry, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, Nevada Commission on Tourism chair said Monday.

“Topping 50 million visitors is a great milestone for Nevada’s tourism industry, and exceeding our initial projections makes the achievement even better than expected,” Hunt said. “It demonstrates the value of diversifying our enticing tourism product and promoting Nevada’s dynamic adventure activities to reach a much broader range of visitors.”

The commission had projected in December at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Reno that visitor volume would reach 50 million for the year, but final reports received after the year’s end showed the number of visitors Nevada actually welcomed was 50,549,455, more than a half-million higher than expected.

“Tourism not only is Nevada’s No. 1 industry, but also contributes $40 billion to our state’s economy,” Bruce Bommarito, the commission’s executive director said. “It is a fiercely competitive industry, and we don’t take our success for granted because we know it doesn’t just happen.”

The $40 billion figure includes $10 billion in gross gaming revenue.

Bommarito, a former Caesars Tahoe vice president, said Lake Tahoe tourism has fit well into the equation. Pointing to its outdoor and recreation appeal, Lake Tahoe is a part of what the commission is aiming for: A diversified approach to marketing.

“When we look at the ‘Nevada: Wide Open’ campaign as well as our 24-hour gaming, we are selling those things that other people can’t compete with,” Bommarito said. “We’ve realized if we bring them to town for those things outside of 24-hour gaming, we can get them in our restaurants and casinos. Tahoe certainly has a lot to offer in that area.”

Exact figures for Lake Tahoe visits were not available but were tracked through a variety of ways, including visitor centers, reservation services and the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. In the breakdown of visitors, the Lake Tahoe portion of Nevada fell into the “all other counties” categories – which excludes Clark, Washoe counties as well as the Mesquite and Laughlin areas – with 2.4 million visitors.

In a report presented to state legislative budget committees Monday, Bommarito said the commission’s adventure-oriented advertising, “Nevada: Wide Open,” has generated a 42.7 percent increase in responses from viewers seeking information, and 52 percent of those surveyed said the materials influenced their decision to visit. Web site visits were up 12.3 percent over 2003.

The Commerce Department ranks Nevada the No. 5 most visited U.S. state for overseas visitors and the Travel Industry of America ranks the state No. 6 in domestic and international visitor spending.

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