State tourism expands overseas offices

The Board of Examiners Tuesday approved a series of contracts Tourism Director Tim Maland says will give the state a presence in 41 different countries.

And he said the contracts will do that for less money than the state has been paying for tourism offices in just three countries.

One of the offices will be in Mexico, an idea the 2007 Legislature rejected because the original proposal would have required a $100,000 increase in the $372,00 budget for international offices.

Maland said the Tourism Commission made the savings by contracting directly with the same operators the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority contracts with in Mexico and several other countries.

Contracts approved by the board Tuesday will provide tourism offices for Nevada not only in the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan but Mexico, which will serve seven central American countries, and Canada. He said a final deal is being worked out to put a sixth office in Germany to serve the European Union nations.

It will cost $60,000 for each of the six offices. He said that means the six offices fit within the same budget originally provided for three.

With the weak dollar, Maland said, those markets provide a big opportunity to draw more tourists to Nevada. He said recent U.S. Commerce Department statistics show visitation to the U.S. is up 12 percent and spending by those visitors up 22 percent because the dollar's value is down internationally.

"They're seeing us as a bargain destination," he said.

One market they hope to tap into in central America, he said, is skiers. Maland said there's a huge ski market there but that most go to Colorado, Utah and other areas. He said tourism wants to change that and bring those skiers to Lake Tahoe.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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