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Study takes a deep look at visitors

John Seelmeyer

More than 2,400 times last year, visitors to the Reno-Sparks area were stopped by employees of Reno-based InfoSearch International and asked if they’d participate in a telephone survey when they got home.

The market research firm ended up talking with 2,405 people who had come from at least 100 miles away, and the product of its work a dense packet of data was delivered a few days ago to the board of the Reno- Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

Snippets from the study: Twenty-six percent of the visitors to Reno come from 35-100 miles away; the remaining 74 percent travel more than 100 miles.

While northern California is by far the biggest feeder market for Reno and Sparks, 7 percent of the visitors come from Washington, 7 percent from Oregon, 6 percent from Canada and 5 percent from Southern California.

The number of visitors from Canada was the fastest growing segment of the tourism market last year.

Those visitors tend to stay a little longer and spend a little more than others.

The average visitor spends $212 a day on gaming and $126 a day on everything else.

Gamblers from Washington State are the biggest spenders an average of $255 a day while they’re in town.Visitors from elsewhere in Nevada, however, spend an average of only $71 a day in the casinos.

Visitors without children spend an average $722 on gaming during their trips to northern Nevada; tourists who have kids spend an average of $612.

People who don’t have Internet access spend an average of $673 on gaming when they visit Reno and Sparks; people who have Internet access spend $631.

Fifteen percent of the visitors surveyed in 2004 said they’d been comped for their rooms.

On average, visitors make their reservations 33 days ahead of their arrival with longer lead times if they’re attending a convention or traveling by air.

One in five visitors uses the Internet to make reservations.

Southwest Airlines had the biggest share of the market at Reno/Tahoe International Airport in 2004 47.2 percent.United was second at 11.2 percent,American had 10.2 percent and America West had 9.2 percent.

About 71 percent of the passengers arriving at Reno/Tahoe International Airport last year were headed for Reno or Sparks.Another 13.3 percent were headed for South Lake Tahoe, 7.3 percent for North Lake Tahoe, 1.4 percent for Carson City and 1 percent for Minden and Gardnerville.

A total of 10.6 million vehicles used Interstate 80 at Verdi last year the figure includes both eastbound and westbound traffic and the figure was up 0.3 percent from 2003.

Traffic along U.S.

395 at Bordertown north of Reno,meanwhile,was up 1.7 percent in 2004 and totaled 3.4 million vehicles.

Occupancy in RV parks in Washoe County ran at 66.5 percent during 2004.

The busiest month was June,with 80.7 percent occupancy.

In December, the rate fell to 46.8 percent.

As of Dec.

31, there were 1,776 RV spaces licensed in Washoe County.

The national average daily room rate for hotels last year was $85.52.

In Washoe County, the figure was $64.52.

The average room rate in Washoe County increased by 9.6 percent last year.Nationally, the increase was 2.9 percent.

The number of slot machines in operation in Washoe County averaged 24,354 in 2004.

That’s down 7.3 percent from a year earlier.

Of the Californians surveyed, 44 percent had visited an Indian casino last year.

One out of six of those who’d visited an Indian casino said they’d be making fewer trips to northern Nevada.

Eighteen percent of the visitors to the Reno-Sparks area last year were here for a convention.

That’s up from 13 percent two years earlier.

About 22 percent of visitors made a trip to Lake Tahoe during their time in northern Nevada.

About three-quarters of them did it as a day trip and didn’t stay overnight at Lake Tahoe.

Four percent of the visitors golfed while they were here.

Five percent visited the National Auto Museum.

Sixteen percent visited Virginia City.

Ten percent attended a wedding The median age of visitors to the region last year was 55.

Ten years ago, the median age was 51.

Thirteen percent of the visitors to the region were traveling with someone under 21 years old.

Twenty percent of the visitors to Reno and Sparks last year were making their first trip to the area.About 14 percent said they’ve made more than 20 visits here.

Seventeen percent of the first-time visitors said they’ll definitely return within two years.

Among repeat visitors, 61 percent said they’ll definitely be back within two years.

Some 43 percent of visitors rank the enjoyment of their trip as “excellent.” Half of the visitors who have been here before say Reno and Sparks are improving.

Thirteen percent say the area has declined.