Motorcyclists a key element to state's tourism strategy

As Reno-area businesses tally the receipts from last weekend's Street Vibrations, state tourism officials continue their efforts to woo even more motorcyclists to Nevada.

Images of drug-crazed motorcycle gangs breaking up bars and terrorizing towns are a thing of the past.

"That image was certainly true for many, many years but motorcycles are very expensive now, and people need to have good jobs to buy them," said Chris Chrystal, media relations manager for the Nevada Commission on Tourism. "Many of today's bikers are professional people doctors, lawyers, high-ranking military officers."

People who own motorcycles and travel have good jobs and dollars to spend and Nevada wants them to spend some of that money here, she said.

Street Vibrations spokesperson Carol Infranca said the group anticipated 3,200 registered participants in last weekend's event with another 30,000 to 35,000 more enthusiasts joining in the fun.

The state tourism agency two years ago launched a campaign to snare the motorcycle market by launching "Nevada Open Roads", a publication specifically directed to upscale RV owners and biker communities.

That magazine highlights the advantages Nevada offers enthusiasts open, dry roads, scenic routes like Lamoille Canyon and Paradise Valley, and landmarks and cities such as Death Valley and Virginia City that many riders read about in history books.

"There are a lot of great motorcycle trails in Nevada," Chrystal said.

The magazine also features camping, fishing, hunting and hiking sites as well as places of historical interest and adventure.

"We reach out to the bikers through biker gatherings like the Motorcycle Jamboree in June in Elko too. That (event) attracts thousands of motorcyclists from all over," Chrystal said.

During the event, motorcyclists participate in scheduled rides up Lamoille Canyon one of Nevada's scenic byways.

Chrystal says Elko practically turns itself over to the motorcyclists during the affair.

This year the agency also sent a representative to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota to present the case for a Nevada destination. Hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists from all over the country attend that event.

"The old image of a biker is no longer a valid picture. It (motorcyclists) are one of our special markets," Chrystal said. "They (motorcycle events) are a lot of fun for them and it is very good for the local economy."

Street Vibrations and similar events are also good for hotels, restaurants, merchants specializing in motorcycle-related equipment and vendors who set up shop during the event. Street Vibrations' organizers estimate the event pumps $58 million into the local economy.

That figure is based on an estimate that visitors to the Truckee Meadows spend an average of $331.75 a day. Street Vibrations executives say most of those who register for the event stay five days, while other enthusiasts typically stay three or four days.

"Motorcycle events contribute significantly to Nevada's tourist-based economy," Chrystal said.


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