Visitors Bureau goals tied to V&T and opening a visitors' center

Carson City tourism officials envision in the next 10 years giving the capital city a restored Virginia & Truckee Railroad, a seven-day-a-week visitors' center and a bustling convention center.

With more cooperation with surrounding tourism agencies in Reno, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties and Lake Tahoe, tourism officials see Carson City emerging as a year-round destination for visitors.

Carson City Convention and Visitors' Bureau board members and staff sat around a table for four hours Monday to establish a vision, reconsider the bureau's mission statement and establish a strategy to fulfill the mission.

"Staff looks at this as a road map," said Candy Duncan, the bureau's executive director. "We know exactly where to go."

The goal-setting session gave a clear indication that the bureau wants to ensure that the V&T extension to Carson City becomes a reality. That means being more involved and giving more money to the V&T cause.

The bureau has given $50,000 a year for V&T planning for the past three years and a total of $545,735 since 1992. CCCVB funding and $425,458 in sales tax revenue from Storey County since 1995 have been the only regular sources of money for the V&T.

The latest estimate pegs the cost of rebuilding the 17-mile railroad from Gold Hill to Carson City at $24.4 million.

Duncan and some board members propose increasing the room tax charged at local motels and hotels from 8 percent to 10 percent and giving all that money to the V&T project.

Bureau officials see the V&T as the potential for curing many of the local tourism woes, such as filling hotel and motel rooms in winter and encouraging more summer visitors to sleep in Carson City rather than in Reno or at Lake Tahoe.

"If we think the V&T is the answer to everything, should we do something really important?" Duncan asked, in reference to devoting all of a potential room tax increase to the V&T.

Board Chairman Don Quilici wouldn't want to see additional visitors bureau money used for "paper shuffling" such as studies and engineering.

"I want to earmark the money for hard construction," Quilici said.

Board members and staff members also latched onto the importance of having a visitor center or at least a number of information kiosks, as suggested by board member Dwight Millard.

Local tourism information now is dished out by the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce, only on weekdays for much of the year.

"We don't have a visitor center," Duncan said. "We would like to see one that belongs to us and is open seven days a week. We would not be a gift shop."

Duncan describes her visitor center vision more as an interpretive center with displays about the region and a knowledgeable staff.

The goal-setting session established strategies to carry out a slightly revised mission statement, which calls for the bureau to make Carson City a tourism destination that encourages visitors to stay longer.

Along with the V&T and a visitors center, these strategies call for increasing the number of local conventions, continuing to support the city's history and emergence as a golf region, building on regional marketing and supporting downtown redevelopment, especially once traffic is rerouted to the bypass.


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