SPARKS — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday Nevada’s economy is recovering from the recession and that tourism is leading the way.“Tourism continues to be the state’s leading industry,” he told the opening session of the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.He said the industry generates some $56 billion a year for the economy, employs 30 percent of the state’s workforce and 26 percent of all state and local tax revenues.With Nevada’s diverse assets, events, history and cultural offerings he expects tourism will continue to lead the state’s economic recovery.“The story behind that data is the people in this room,” he said.He said those professionals have long led the way in tourism innovation and he expects that to continue into the future.From his end, he said he has “tasked staff with the challenge to think big and go big.”As part of that plan, Sandoval said the state will next spring roll out a “statewide brand” that is now being developed.He said the focus doesn’t have to be just on “grandiose programs,” that many of the state’s smaller and less known attractions are also potentially big tourist draws.“I do believe we can provide one of the most authentic western experiences,” he said.Tourism’s counterpart, Sandoval said, is the Governor’s Office of Economic Development he formed. Economic development and tourism, he said, are more and more working together to enhance the Nevada economy.Sandoval said a key part of that effort is now being planned — the year-long celebration of Nevada’s 150th anniversary of statehood from Oct. 31, 2013, through the same day in 2014. He said there will be 150 public events throughout that year and urged not only businessmen but local officials attending the conference to make sure their special events are included in the list.“I do believe Nevada’s best days are to come,” he said.
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