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City sees bump in overnight visitors

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

The number of visitors spending the night in Carson City hotels rose over the past four years because of attractions such as sports tournaments and special events, according to the Carson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The visitors bureau compared data from 2004 with a study from a Reno market research company. InfoSearch International showed overnight stays had increased 10 percent in the last four years.

About two-thirds of the visitors stayed overnight, while one-third were day visitors, according to the most recent study. Top reasons for trips included sports events, special events and shows, recreation and family visits.

Over half of visitors were from California, according to InfoSearch International, and about one-quarter were from Nevada towns at least 25 miles away from Carson City.

The company called people following their visits to hotels, the visitors bureau and special events in Carson City.

Candy Duncan, executive director of the visitors bureau, said she was happy to see that people come to Carson City for events ranging from soccer games to Nevada Day.

“I think what it shows us is that we really have a nice variety of reasons for people to come and visit us,” she said.

Other popular visitor events include the Taste of Downtown, the Silver Dollar Car Classic and the Kit Carson Trail Ghost Walk, she said.

Sara Hart, director of research for InfoSearch International, said Carson City is unique in Nevada because it does not rely on gaming for tourism and focuses on its other strengths, including its identity as a historic town.

About one-fifth of people surveyed said they went to the Nevada State Railroad Museum or the Nevada State Museum, according to the survey, and a slightly fewer said they visited the Nevada State Capitol or other government buildings.

The city also has benefited from a marketing campaign to bring in more sports tournaments.

The parks department spent about $21,000 from the visitors bureau in 2007, for instance, and brought in about 42,000 people who spent about $10.7 million in Carson City, according to a report by Joel Dunn, parks recreation manager.

He said there is a lot of competition for sports tournaments in Northern Nevada, and Carson City is able to vie because its residents are warm and welcoming to visitors, which earns repeat visits.

“It’s been amazing,” he said of Carson’s growth within this tourism segment.

The biggest group of visitors to the 62-room Hardman House hotel downtown come from those kind of sports tournaments, said Dixie Dickerson, hotel general manager.

Soccer, baseball and golf groups make up a big part of business in the spring and summer, she said, and the hotel will rely on state workers until the next major wave of visitors arrive in the capital city.

“Until those legislators get here,” she said.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.