Tourism Commission to ask legislature for money to bring back tourists

Tourism Director Bruce Bommarito and Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt plan to ask legislators next week for an emergency marketing campaign to bring tourists back to Nevada.

They laid out basic plans for an advertising campaign Wednesday to the Tourism Commission. Hunt said exactly what they will propose is still up in the air but that the commission must do something to help resorts and local authorities convince tourists Nevada is open for business.

"As we know, this state is totally dependent upon gaming tax revenue and sales tax revenue," she said.

Bommarito said tourism will recover from the terrorists attacks, but he as well as resort operators are concerned about the next 60 to 90 days.

Gov. Kenny Guinn is also concerned. He has already asked his financial advisers to figure out what the impact of the attacks will be on Nevada's tourist industry and the tax revenues it generates.

Tourism Commission member Jeff Beckelman of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority agreed with the plan to seek emergency funding from the Interim Finance Committee saying, "time, in this situation, is really our enemy."

He said executives of hotels in Northern Nevada are already pooling their marketing dollars to encourage people to drive or take "short haul" flights to Nevada from California and the rest of the West. Those hotels and other businesses have already raised about $1.6 million for the campaign, he said.

Budget Director Perry Comeaux said the governor asked his office to "get a feel on what is happening."

Deputy Budget Director Don Hataway said they will also develop a list of new programs and positions that could be delayed or reduced if necessary.

But he emphasized that is all "very preliminary."

"It's to make sure that if the economy goes turn south, we have the information the governor will need to make those decisions," he said.

There are about 400 new positions authorized by the 2001 Legislature effective Oct. 1 and Comeaux made it clear one option is to delay filling some of them.

Guinn's press secretary, Jack Finn, said the governor wanted "real numbers" to determine what the effect may be on the state over the next few months. But he said Guinn is concerned gaming revenues have been down for the past three months and, over the past year, have risen only 1 percent.

Finn said the governor hoped to meet with Comeaux next week to review his options for reducing state spending if that becomes necessary.

The attacks in New York and Washington already claimed one major casualty. The National Championship Air Races, one of the Reno area's two largest annual attractions, was canceled last weekend. In addition, officials report 68 percent of the rooms in Las Vegas were vacant last weekend.


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