Visitors bureau votes on strategic tourism plan

The Carson City Convention and Visitor's Bureau board will vote Monday on a strategic plan Executive Director Candy Duncan said broadens and expands efforts to bring more tourists to the capital.

The study by Strategic Marketing Group of South Lake Tahoe said the V&T Railroad has been the primary focus of the bureau's efforts for several years.

"There is a strong perception that the bureau has focused a disproportionate amount of time in those promotional efforts," the plan states. "To be as competitive as possible, it is important for the CCCVB to clearly shift its strategy to promote a range of reasons to visit the area including sports tourism, special events, recreation, area history and culture in addition to the V&T."

Duncan said the bureau has been "so focused on just getting the train running," that new members and new properties in town began questioning that emphasis.

"There were some new members who said you can't just focus on the railroad that doesn't even come to Carson City," Duncan said.

She said some of those new properties are "very focused on sports tournaments" and wanted to see more support from bureau the in that area.

The plan, she said she will recommend, calls for enhancing efforts not only to draw more sports tournaments but to create special events to provide reasons for targeted groups to come to Carson City and stay at least overnight.

Beyond that, Duncan said, a special committee to develop ideas for new special events is being formed.

But she said that doesn't mean abandoning the V&T Railroad project, which she said still is a major tourism opportunity and works well as part of the historic attractions in the city.

"We need to broaden our marketing," she said. "This outlines for us that we need to become the catalyst of change for the Carson City market."

Duncan said the plan before the five-member board Monday is intended to make that happen.

The plan also has long-term recommendations for the bureau to consider beginning with taking advantage of how the completion of the bypass will change downtown - reducing traffic there and improving the experience for locals and visitors alike.

It points to the potential of converting the old Kmart store at the north end of town into an events center that can handle large meetings - something the plan says Carson City lacks.

"Current meeting facilities are limited and Carson City is not seen as a well defined meeting location," the plan says urging the bureau to study the feasibility of converting the store.

It also recommends efforts to expand and upgrade sports fields in the capital to make it more attractive as a venue.

And it has a list of specific recommendations aimed at attracting new special events as well as drawing visitors who are in the area to attend events in Reno and Lake Tahoe. It says the city needs to "develop a branding tagline" to strengthen marketing efforts and better identify the city and its attractions to potential customers.

The plan calls for increased funding for the city's tourism efforts. But cautions that means identifying how new funding sources would be used to enhance tourism.

"Funding has become a more competitive issue given that many destinations in California that compete with Carson City for the Northern California tourism market have significantly increased their tourism budgets with the addition of tourism business improvement district funding," the report says.

Also necessary, according to the report, is development of a system to effectively measure the results of bureau programs.

The meeting starts at 4 p.m. Monday in the Sierra Room of the community center.


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