Virginia City hosts the world

A group of journalists and tour operators from around the world got a taste of the Old West as they came into Virginia City recently.

On Saturday, visitors from China were the guests of Virginia City Convention and Tourism staff as they made their way around the Comstock, drinking at the Bucket of Blood, eating at the Gold Hill Hotel, riding the V&T and learning about Virginia City's history.

The visits are called "familiarization tours," run by the Tourism Industry of America.

Representatives from the various visitors' bureaus across the state and the Nevada Commission on Tourism met with travel journalists and tour operators from across the globe, escorting the foreign visitors to various Nevada locations.

Eight specific tours were available to the international visitors, said Larry Freedman, who directs the tourism group's rural programs.

Some stayed in Las Vegas, others headed north, east to Elko and west to Reno, Lake Tahoe and Virginia City.

Friedman said these kinds of tours bring billions of dollars to the state.

"Last year they did Anaheim, New York and Florida, and based on those cities' experience, it produces billions in travel."

The conference attracted 5,500 people, with 35 foreign tour companies participating, he said.

Ning Zhang, a journalist from Beijing, said her first impression of Virginia City was that it was "interesting." Her reserve didn't keep her from whipping out her camera and photographing the gunfighters that walk the streets of the town on Wednesday.

Each member of the 12 or so Chinese on Saturday couldn't wait to have their photos taken with the men in cowboy garb and the ladies in Victorian finery.

Ryan Jerz, who escorted the Chinese delegation, said the group will only have time in Virginia City to ride the train and stop in a few shops. The group has been through Carson City, to Reno, to Lake Tahoe and to Pyramid Lake. Virginia City is the last stop.


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