Tourism industry gears up for 2016
The tourism industry in Reno/Sparks is poised for the New Year with a rebounding economy, more companies settling in northern Nevada and early snowfall in the Tahoe region.
According to Jennifer Cunningham, interim managing director for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA), the new companies expanding and opening in the region are having a positive effect on the tourism industry. It is creating demand for hotel rooms with people who are looking for jobs and staying in town for interviews and business trips.
RSCVA reported the year-over-year taxable rate has increased by 14 percent and the overall occupancy also increased from 62.4 percent in the 2013-14 fiscal year to 64.5 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
While the number of estimated visitors to Reno-Sparks and Washoe County is lower than 10 years ago, 5,265,553 visitors in 2005 compared to 4,631,195 visitors in 2014, the area is continuing to draw more people to the area as the economy rebounds from the recession.
“We are in a very positive place for bigger and better things in the upcoming years,” Cunningham said.
RSCVA underwent a lot of changes in 2015.
Legislation was passed to reduce the size of the RSCVA board from 13 members to nine members. The RSCVA board also voted to fire the organization’s president in October 2015.
“It is a time of regrouping,” Cunningham said.
The RSCVA board is currently in the recruiting process for a new CEO but according to Cunningham, the board is focusing on taking their time to find the right person for the position. In the meanwhile, Cunningham is working on a five-year strategy for the organization.
“My laser focus is on developing a strategic plan,” Cunningham said.
This entails collecting and analyzing data to better understand the unique lines of business that fall under the tourism category such as gaming, skiing and more.
“I feel so encouraged and positive to create something that is a useful (roadmap for the organization) and will provide good metrics for the area,” Cunningham said.
There are several large-scale events and conventions that will draw visitors to the region in 2016.
Reno will be hosting the 2016 Big Sky Conference Basketball Championships in March at the Reno Events center, which will draw an estimated 2,500 visitors. Reno will also host the 2016 USBC Open Championships, which will bring in an estimated 40,000 bowlers to the region over two months. And, for the first time, northern Nevada will host the Gold Wing Motorcycle Rally over July 4. The event will bring an anticipated 5,000 visitors.
RSCVA is looking ahead to the American Legion convention which will be held in August 2017 which is anticipate to bring in 18,000 visitors.
The ski industry is also rebounding from the past years low snowfall.
“We expect it to be a banner year for skiing,” Cunningham said.
According to Mt. Rose’s Marketing Director Mike Pierce, the ski resort has a season total of 136 inches of snow as of December 2015 compared to a 54 inch snow total in December 2014.
“Tahoe has some of the best snow in the country right now,” Pierce said. “There is good potential over all to have a strong, record breaking year.”
The RSCVA has also been working closely with the Airport Authority to expand marketing efforts and to continue to bring more flights to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in 2016.
“Air service will always be a challenge,” Cunningham said.
As for Nevada as a whole, the Nevada Division of Tourism, TravelNevada, plans to continue their campaign to attract more Millennials and young GenXers with their “Don’t Fence Me In: More Stories than Souvenirs” campaign.
“We are also targeting the Millennial mindset which surpasses an age group,” Bethany Drysdale, director of public relations for TravelNevada, said. “They are adventurous, they want to travel and see things that no one else has seen … and post it on social media. Nevada is perfect for that. It’s an Instagram worthy state.”
Since the launch of the campaign they have garnered more than 11 million impressions.
TravelNevada will launch the “Don’t Fence Me In” campaign for the spring and summer months starting in mid-April.
Reno’s median home price jumped to $413,405 in November, a 4 percent increase from the same month a year ago. Meanwhile, across greater Reno-Sparks, November’s median price of $400,000 remained unchanged from October.