CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) has updated its strategic plan for attracting visitors, combining cost-effective new initiatives and time-tested programs with proven track records, Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki said today.

Krolicki, NCOT chair, said the agency will target U.S. consumer markets that have large populations with convenient driving distance or easy air access to Nevada and international markets whose travelers have a strong likelihood of visiting Nevada, such as Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“In the current national economic climate, many people are still traveling, but spending less and staying closer to home,” Krolicki said. “Visitor numbers are down, but Nevada is well-positioned as a centrally located, easily accessed western destination where travelers experience unique entertainment and attractions and where dollars still go a long way.”

The plan, which extends through fiscal year 2011, was presented to the commission at its regular meeting March 26, during NCOT’s Rural Roundup tourism conference in Winnemucca.The plan is online at http://travelnevada.biz/documents/public/2010/Strategic_Plan_R_3.30.10.pdf. It calls for additional inexpensive initiatives that build upon existing programs, including:

  • Expanding the promotion of meetings and conventions, weddings and honeymoons, and Nevada’s parks and museums
  • Expanding Web content to appeal to additional niche markets, such as travelers seeking pet-friendly accommodations, and conducting media campaigns for diverse markets, including Asian Americans and Latino Americans
  • Working with Nevada’s tourism “territories” to develop sales blitz programs for increasing overnight stays in rural communities

“Many of our tourism initiatives will emphasize the rural Nevada experience, such as branding the state as a “free-spirited” destination that offers new attractions and Old West cultural heritage and satisfies visitors’ yearnings for an educational, yet relaxing vacation that delivers great value,” NCOT Director Dann Lewis said.

“NCOT is using marketing techniques designed to quickly draw more visitors at less expense,” Lewis said. For example:

  • NCOT promoted Nevada as a premier ski destination using television ads in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and a mix of Internet, print and mobile ads targeted to consumers in San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago and Phoenix.
  • NCOT entered a co-op program that promoted Nevada as the “Featured Destination” of the week on Southwest.com and was included in an e-mail sent to 7 million Southwest subscribers beginning last November. As a result, all Nevada hotel bookings on Southwest.com increased an average 46 percent week over week.
  • NCOT enhanced its mobile site NVSki.mobi by adding airline arrival and departure schedules from Reno-Tahoe International Airport and enabling consumers to buy ski lift tickets using their mobile phone. The agency also is more heavily utilizing the power of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and NCOT’s blog, closely monitoring tweets from hotel partners, ski resorts and attractions and re-tweeting top offers to the 3,400 Twitter followers for immediate results.
  • To encourage return visits, NCOT sends a monthly e-newsletter about attractions and events, including rural Nevada venues, to more than 130,000 consumers who have requested periodic tourism-related information.

       NCOT also e-mails information to niche-market consumers about arts and culture, ski, golf and motorcycle touringNCOT participated in a Google test program that exposed its ski commercial through in-stream video to 7.7 million consumers and found that 45 percent watched the entire 30-second ad. The test program provided NCOT with several thousand dollars of free advertising, and research findings will be used in future Internet marketing initiatives. In addition, Google will showcase NCOT’s marketing research in a case study presented at seminars and displayed on its Web site and in literature educating consumers on how to effectively utilize this technology.

Lewis said NCOT will retain other programs that have demonstrated a measurable positive return on investment, such as:

  • Conducting familiarization tours that introduce travel writers and tour operators to Nevada’s diverse and unique mix of attractions
  • Administering effective rural initiatives including the room tax-funded grant program, “Rural Roundup” conference and partnership projects that stimulate local economies
  • Publishing Nevada Magazine, which fosters awareness and appreciation of Nevada’s cities and towns, heritage, culture and natural wonders, and continuing the magazine’s “Tour around Nevada” series

NCOT, which promotes tourism for the entire state, is funded by three-eighths of 1 percent of the hotel-motel room tax that visitors pay, not by General Fund dollars. The agency’s operating budget was cut 41.1 percent from nearly $18 million in fiscal year 2008 to $10.5 million this year and its staff reduced 23.3 percent from 30 to 23 people.