Reno agency hires consultant to map tourism plan

RENO, Nev. — The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority has hired a consultant to help analyze current efforts to attract tourists and map out a five-year plan to better promote Reno-Tahoe as a vacation destination.

The board approved the initial phase of a contract last week with the Minneapolis-based Convention Sports & Leisure to assess the strengths and weaknesses of both the region and the authority itself.

“We want to move the needle on destination perception,” CSL project manager John Kaatz said.

Kaatz will report back to the board in January with details on the size and scope of the project expected to cost $150,000 to $160,000 and take six months to complete.

His firm intends to examine external factors, such as how the overall tourism industry views Reno and Lake Tahoe, to the internal operations of the RSCVA from the board down to staff.

John Farahi, the CEO of Monarch Casino & Resort Inc., which owns the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, was among board members who pushed for the creation of a long-term strategic plan.

Kaatz told the board before Thursday’s vote that he recalled visiting the Reno-Sparks market in 1998 as part of a smaller project his firm took part in when the Reno-Sparks Convention Center “was atrocious.”

“It lacked identity,” he said. Since then, he said, local tourism officials have expanded and made great improvements in the facility that serves as the epicenter for the region’s convention and meeting business.

“Fast forward to today,” Katz said, citing recent announcements of nonstop flights in the coming year to Reno from London and Guadalajara, Mexico.

“You are working in the right direction,” he said about the tourism-rich connections.

The RSCVA also voted to pay more to keep the U.S. Bowling Congress tournaments in Reno. The board agreed to increase the per-bowler fee it pays the USBC from $20 to $30 for the 2016 Open Tournament.

The city of Reno, which owns the National Bowling Stadium in downtown Reno where the tournaments are held, must also sign off on the deal.

Newly elected Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said the City Council intends to address the matter at its regular weekly meeting on Wednesday.


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