Survey finds visitors look for history |

Survey finds visitors look for history

by Jeff Munson

The average visitor to the Carson Valley is a 50-plus-year-old California couple who earns about $53,000 a year, stays at least one night and spends $1,127.

These average visitors, according to a new profile released by the Carson Valley Visitors Authority, like overnight accommodation packages, enjoy local history, gaming and golf, have been here at least twice before and plan to return.

“Some of what the survey says is common knowledge, but there are some surprises that we find fascinating,” said Suzanne Rosevold, executive director for the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority. The group commissioned the study, taken from July to September 2000.

There were 429 people surveyed, with a plus or minus 5 percent accuracy rate.

Respondents were asked about the significance of the Carson Valley to their visit. Forty-six percent of people who responded said local history is the region’s strength and a primary reason for visiting, followed by location, scenery and gaming.

Visitors were asked their current perception of the Carson Valley. The results indicate 42 percent see the area as a historical destination, followed by gaming at 15 percent and golf at 13 percent.

And among the places visitors go when they are staying in the Carson Valley, South Lake Tahoe ranks the highest at 59 percent followed by Virginia City at 52 percent.

The fact that people are drawn to the historical aspect of the area is surprising and something the Visitors Authority will focus on, Rosevold said.

“One of the strengths of the report is location and its tie-in with history. Virginia City is the big historical draw, followed by Genoa and Gardnerville and Minden,” she said. “We will play up on those strengths and familiarize tour guides beginning this spring.”

Concerning areas of weakness, 27 percent indicated a lack of shopping is a concern, followed by a lack of entertainment, according to 25 percent of those surveyed.

While surprised at the response over entertainment, Rosevold said chamber members are working to develop more activities that will draw people to the Carson Valley and get them to stay more than just a night.

“I certainly think the chamber can help create more opportunity for local entertainment and events. I think what we have to look at is combining gaming packages along with special events,” she said.

Other information gleaned from the report indicates a demand for more activities in the fall and spring shoulder seasons. While golf, hunting and fishing bring their share of visitors during the shoulder seasons, the Visitors Authority will look at how these are marketed, along with other areas of interest they may have overlooked.

“I’m guessing with the demographics we are seeing that we can promote more kinds of RV types of outings, trips and activities,” Rosevold said. “We need to make (the area) more conducive to what the average RV clientele wants in their travels.”

Golf, too, remains a top priority for the Visitors Authority. The survey indicates 10 percent of the people who visit the Carson Valley are playing the area’s courses – known as the “Divine Nine,” while 9 percent say they visit solely to play golf.

“As a result of marketing through an association with the golf courses and the casinos, I think the survey shows we are hitting the area that we have targeted,” Rosevold said.

When it comes to weaknesses in the area and the desire for more shopping, Rosevold said the strength of retail relies largely on whether or not residents shop locally.

“I believe that being in support of our local businesses is the best thing the chamber can do to support and help correct our perceived weaknesses,” she said. “If we have a strong business environment, where the community supports its local businesses, we will not only retain our businesses, but we will be able to recruit additional retail.”

Here are some highlights of the Carson Valley tourism survey:

n Overall, 48 percent surveyed are from California, 15 percent from other areas in Nevada, 5 percent from Washington and 4 percent from Arizona.

n The median income of visitors to the Carson Valley was $53,000 a year. Empty nesters account for 42 percent of overall visitors.

n Day visitors accounted for 42 percent of total visitors, with overnight visitors accounting for 58 percent.

n Of overnight visitors surveyed, 35 percent stayed in a hotel, 21 percent in a motel, 18 percent said they camped and 7 percent said they stayed with family or friends.

n South Lake Tahoe, Virginia City and Carson City were the most frequently mentioned areas people indicated they would visit while staying in the Carson Valley.

n When asked about the Carson Valley’s strengths as a destination, the most frequent response was history, followed by scenery and casinos.

n Of those surveyed, 49 percent indicated the Carson Valley was much or somewhat better than other areas they had visited.

n Approximately 31 percent of those surveyed had seen or heard some advertisement for the Carson Valley prior to leaving home.

n Forty-two percent of those surveyed saw the Carson Valley primarily as a historical destination, followed by 15 percent who indicated gaming, and 13 percent as a golf destination.

n Lack of shopping and entertainment were most frequently mentioned by visitors when asked about the Carson Valley’s weaknesses as a destination.