A record 50 million tourists visited Nevada during 2004.
State tourism Director Bruce Bommarito told the Senate Finance Committee Monday the total number of visitors was higher than expected - 50,549,455 according to final reports.
"Tourism not only is Nevada's number-one industry but also contributes $40 billion to the state economy," he said.
He said 25 years ago, 75 percent of that total was from gaming. Now, he said, the figures are reversed and just 25 percent of that is from gaming.
Gross gaming revenue passed the $10 billion mark for the first time in 2004 as well.
"It's a fiercely competitive industry and we don't take our success for granted because we know it doesn't just happen," said Bommarito.
He said the Commission on Tourism uses a variety of methods to attract visitors and participates in trade shows and conferences around the world as well as in the U.S. The commission operates offices in China, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan and South Korea.
Bommarito said Nevada has been particularly successful in attracting visitors from China, now the world's fastest growing economy. He said according to the Chinese government, 93 percent of their citizens who visit the U.S. come to Nevada. He said their average spending is more than $5,200 not including gaming.
He said the U.S. Commerce Department ranks Nevada the fifth most visited state for tourists from overseas.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.