Reid pushes for tourism council |

Reid pushes for tourism council

Susan Wood

Acknowledging that tourism employs more Nevadans than any other industry, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid wants the Bush administration to create a travel and tourism advisory council.

“People love Las Vegas and love to come to Lake Tahoe,” Reid said.

Tourism employs 300,000 people and drives an annual payroll of $5.5 billion in the state.

“Nevada has more to gain than any other state, if the federal government would promote (the nation) internationally,” the Democratic senator from the Silver State said. “A coordinated national tourism policy will help create jobs in Nevada and across the country, as well as promote and strengthen tourism throughout the United States.”

Reid has gathered support from U.S. Reps. Sam Farr, D-Salinas, and Mark Foley, R-Palm Beach, co-chairmen of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus.

The three lawmakers are asking President Bush to sign an executive order to establish the council.

“More than 130 countries have official government-sponsored tourism offices,” Reid said, listing Singapore and Spain as countries with established offices.

A version of the proposed council, the United States Tourism and Travel Association folded in recent years.

Tourism ranks as one of the largest employers in 28 states. However, these states often dedicate their tourism promotional budgets to touting their own attributes.

One cohesive message for the entire nation is needed, Reid stressed.

The recommended advisory panel would perform a marketplace assessment and review current policies that support tourism export growth.

As envisioned by Reid, it would also identify successful tourism promotional programs undertaken at the state, local and foreign levels.

Essentially, the panel will determine what works across the globe.

“I think it’s a real good idea,” said Barry Phillips, who serves on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority marketing committee. “It’s something this state would definitely benefit from.”

As Harrah’s marketing director at Stateline, Phillips recognized an added benefit in attracting more Europeans to Lake Tahoe casinos.

European casinos are small and independently-run, in comparison to the corporate casino complexes of Nevada.

Phillips believes the ski resorts would need to be added to the marketing mix.

Some would argue the weather in Tahoe fares better for those fair-weather skiers in the U.S. than in Europe.

“You can see where this would benefit this community especially,” Phillips said.

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