Nevada Official: State Benefits From Neighbors' Attractions

By JERRY BROWN

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- It might seem a reasonable assumption to some people that overseas visitors come to Nevada to try their hand at the gaming tables.

Casinos are, after all, the Silver State's most visible symbol.

The assumption, however, is erroneous, according to Tom Tait, executive director of the state's Commission on Tourism.

Rather, they come to see the sights and attractions, to enjoy the entertainment, to marvel at the weather and to take advantage of the values, especially in accommodations.

"People in the U.K., Taiwan, Korea and other places have had gaming opportunities in their own countries for years," Tait said. "They don't need to come here for that.

"They come to see world class performers and Hoover Dam and to enjoy superb hotel rooms at $50 to $60 a night," he said.

"Did you realize that 13 of the world's 15 largest hotels are located within 3.6 miles of one another along the Las Vegas Strip?"

And even though Nevada is not abundantly rich in national parks, it is, nevertheless, parklands that attract many visitors to the geographically well-situated state.

"The majority of motorcoach tours to, say, Yosemite Park in California go to Reno and Las Vegas," Tait said.

"And at the lowest point in the U.S., in Death Valley, also in California, in the summer, you'll find groups of Europeans who either have been to or are going to Las Vegas."

Arizona's Grand Canyon is another out-of-state natural attraction that draws visitors to Nevada, according to Tait.

"Planeloads of visitors leave Las Vegas daily for the Grand Canyon," he said. "Nevada really is a hub for many western states' national parks."

Of Nevada's 2.55 million foreign visitors each year, according to the latest statistics, close to 650,000 are from neighboring Canada and Mexico.

Japan leads the overseas contingent with 244,000, closely followed by Germany (228,000), the U.K. (200,000), France (123,000) and Taiwan (102,000).

"Mostly, I think they're surprised by the value offered by Nevada -- in the prices of food, accommodations and store goods," Tait said.

"And they are amazed that the temperature can be 100 degrees and at the same time it can be so low in humidity that it is entirely comfortable."

The man-made wonders of the Strip, Tait said, are another constant source of amazement for visitors from foreign climes.

"They can't believe that there's a pirate ship battle [at the Treasure Island Hotel] or a volcano erupting [at the Mirage] at regular intervals on the main street," he said with a laugh.

"Where else but in Las Vegas?"

The Nevada Commission on Tourism maintains offices in the U.K. and Japan as well as a Web site (www.travelnevada.com), which is updated constantly.

It has its Nevada brochure available in seven languages besides English -- French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese.

Tait will head the Nevada delegation at Pow Wow in Nashville, Tenn.

In any language, he already knows the words that the foreign buyers will speak to him.

"They'll say, 'Get me some rooms,' " he said.

"These are the four most common words spoken to me at any Pow Wow."

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