PROGRESS: V&T on track to be big tourism draw |

PROGRESS: V&T on track to be big tourism draw

Sandi Hoover

The Virginia & Truckee Railway, connecting Carson City to Virginia City by train, was the biggest accomplishment of 2009, from the standpoint of the Carson City Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

“That was a big one for us,” said Candy Duncan, executive director for the bureau.

“Getting that train going was amazing, and it was even more amazing that we pulled it off in such a short amount of time. We learned a lot this year – mainly that it’s a popular thing, people love it, and we need to keep it going,” she said.

Operation of the train between Virginia City and the depot just east of Carson City proved to be a successful tourist attraction for the 2009 season, with every seat filled.

Janet Jones, group sales manager for the CCCVB, who attended the recent National Tour Association Convention in Reno, said that from among about 2,000 tour companies from all over the world, the talk of the town was the V&T train.

“The train was the buzz on the floor – it was huge. They were here getting familiar with who we are and what we do, and enjoying some sight-seeing, and we were able to really showcase the train,” Jones said.

“I’ve already booked nearly 10 big tour groups with about 50 people each, and the majority will be staying in Carson City for three to five days. It’s convenient for them to be based here within a half hour of some of the area’s biggest attractions,” Jones said.

Jones is also busy booking school groups, military and other reunion groups, as well as train buffs.

“I got one tour company that just goes around the country riding trains,” she said.

Aside from the train, Duncan said tourism suffered this past year as a result of the economic downturn.

“The economy has definitely affected us. We’re off 25 percent in our room tax collections, and that affects our general fund,” she said.

“We know we’re not alone, but we’re feeling very hopeful about next year even though we expect this winter to be pretty lean,” Duncan said. “This weather is good for Tahoe, but the next couple of months will be challenging for our lodging properties.”

The CCCVB is putting some of its money on draws other than the V&T, though.

“Golf is always a good strong marketing tool for us with the Divine Nine, plus our history and museums, but also we’re working on our culinary component. We have a lot to offer in that respect,” Duncan said.

Something else that might make the bureau’s job easier is the opening of the most recent phase of the freeway.

“With the traffic off of Highway 395, we can work on making downtown more pedestrian friendly. In the past, visitors would come here and sometimes they couldn’t wait to get out of here with Carson Street (traffic) the way it was,” Duncan said.