Tourism season not so bad
Today’s surprise: The tourists kept arriving in the Reno-Tahoe area throughout the
summer despite all sorts of dire predictions.
In fact, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates tourists spent
14 percent more nights in hotels in the region than they did in the same month a year
earlier. The agency estimates August tourist stays were up 22 percent over the same
month a year ago.
There are, however, some clouds
inside that silver lining.
Ralph Witsell, executive director of
travel industry sales for the RSCVA,
says it appears more of the tourists visiting
the Reno-Sparks area booked
their rooms through on-line services
such as Expedia or Yahoo! Travel.
Because those services pride themselves
on aggressive pricing, Witsell said,
“The rate is a lot lower than we would
have hoped for.”
Still, he said, it’s hard to be discouraged
about average room rates when the
number of nights spent by visitors was
(The RSCVA estimates are prepared
from figures provided by major travel
wholesalers, and cover only tourist travelers.
Convention and meeting travelers
including bowlers aren’t included.)
Witsell said the tourism business in the
Reno-Sparks area was stronger than many
other destination markets around the
nation, largely because the region still
could rely on motorists from northern
California even after the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks scared away air travelers.
That was the story, too, around the
north edge of Lake Tahoe.
Paige Nebeker, director of marketing,
sales and tourism for the North
Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said
the number of visitors traveling by air
was down through the summer, but
number of visitors who drove appeared
to be up.
The result? A summer tourism season
that appears to have been about flat
or down slightly compared with 2001.
The region’s travel industry feels
good about the possibilities for the next
“People are feeling a lot more optimistic
for the fall and winter seasons,”
said Nebeker. “I haven’t heard anyone
predicting gloom and doom.”
Witsell said the national economic
recovery, the restoration of confidence
among airline travelers and the busy calendar
of special events in the Reno-Sparks
area this autumn all should bode well.
Bruce Bommarito, executive director
of the Nevada Commission on Tourism,
noted that the concerns of air travelers
have shifted since the first weeks after
the Sept. 11 tragedies.
“We’re dealing now with a fear of airports
rather than a fear of flying,” he said.
The addition of four National
Airlines flights a day to Reno-Tahoe
International Airport should provide
another boost, Witsell said. Those
flights from Las Vegas will provide better
connections for air travelers from
the East Coast.
“It means everything,” Witsell said
of the additional National flights.
“Because those folks are traveling farther,
they’re staying longer.”
The new flights begin in late
Another measure of the state’s
tourism business, meanwhile, comes
from Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, whose
duties include oversight of the Nevada
RV Adventure Sweepstakes.
That sweepstakes, with entry forms
available at RV parks, state parks and
chambers of commerce, offers a
$95,000 RV as a prize.
From January through the end of
August, Hunt said the state has
received 13,297 entries compared with
8,267 in the same period a year earlier.
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