Region looks to rebuild tourism from Canada
Not long ago, tourists from Canada
accounted for enough of the mix that the
exchange rate between the Canadian and
American dollars was an important piece of
information in downtown Reno.
But after a sharp slump in Canadian visitors,
tourism executives in the Reno-Sparks
region and statewide, for that matter are
redoubling their efforts to market the state to
In the middle years of this decade
2004, 2005 and 2006 Canadians accounted
for 6 or 7 percent of the visitors to Reno. In
2007, they accounted for only about 2 percent,
says a marketing study conducted for the
Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors
Authority by Reno’s InfoSearch International.
That amounts to a decline of more than
200,000 visitors from the peak years.
“It used to be pretty significant,” says Ellen
Oppenheim, president and chief executive officer
of the RSCVA.
The decline, she says, appears to have a
fairly simple cause: The end of direct air service
between Reno and Canadian destinations.
Turning the situation around may prove
just as simple.
Allegiant Air last year launched direct air
service between Reno and Bellingham,Wash.,
just south of the Canadian border. While that’s not quite as good as direct
service from cities in western Canada,
Oppenheim says the service appears to doing
well and is drawing visitors to Reno from
More good news: Southwest Airlines,
which accounts for about half the air service
to Reno, this summer said it’s building a codeshare
partnership with Canada’s WestJet.
The two airlines have said they expect to
have coordinated flight schedules ready to roll
out in late 2009.
“We think this potentially is very positive,”
A third big push came from this summer’s
strength of the Canadian dollar against its
American counterpart. Until a couple of weeks
ago, the Canadian dollar was worth more than
$1 in the United States well above the 75
cents or so that it was worth earlier in this
That allowed visitors from Canada to buy
more American goods and services for the
same amount of their home country’s currency.
The RSCVA, Oppenheim says, is working
travel industry trade shows in western Canada
and hosting Reno-Tahoe nights to showcase
the region to travel agencies.
The Nevada Commission on Tourism, too,
is beefing up its efforts to market to Canadian
The state agency recently signed on with
VoX International Inc., a Toronto-based
tourism sales consultant that will market
Nevada to Canadian travelers.
Nevada already ranks sixth among U.S.
states as a destination for Canadian travelers,
says a study by the Canadian government.
In 2007, the study found about 937,000
Canadian visitors came to Nevada, spending a
total of 4.2 million nights in the Silver State.
New York drew the most visitors among
U.S. states 2.9 million Canadians in 2007
while sunny Florida had the longest visits.
Canadians looking to warm their bones spent
more than 42.8 million nights in Florida during
2007 a figure that’s more than four
times greater than that of any other state.
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