Key Asian markets are in focus for the Nevada Tourism Commission this year.
The travel marketplace during the 2013 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will highlight China, South Korea and Japan. The event pairs travel product providers such as tour companies with travel agents who can package and sell the products.
To kick off the three-day state tourism conference, the Nevada Tourism Commission met Tuesday at Red Rock Resort. The focus there, too, was its work with Asian markets.
At the meeting, commission Deputy Director Larry Friedman said Asia tourism is important as the area has strong growth potential.
In 2012, for example, the U.S. ranked No. 8 for outbound tourism from China, with 1.72 million visitors coming to this country, up 26.6 percent from 2011. The Tourism Commission operates offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, among other cities.
Amy Lee, who works in its South Korea office, gave an overview of that market with 50 million people. Two weeks ago, Delta Air Lines hosted a tour of the Reno-Tahoe area for 12 travel professionals in conjunction with the carrier’s new Seoul to Seattle flight.
Reno-Tahoe is about a two-hour flight from Seattle via Alaska Airlines, which is a Delta partner. The commission said contract commitments were made during the familiarization event.
In Japan, overseas travel is down from previous years but is expected to recover, said Kyoko Okabe, who works in the Japan office of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
One challenge in bringing in Japanese travelers is the lack of a direct flight from Japan to Las Vegas. Travelers have to go through San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; San Diego; or Denver.
Even so, Okabe said, Las Vegas is on Japanese minds.
“At this moment, Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations for Japanese,” she said.
More familiarization is planned. Each representative from the commission’s Asian-based offices will be staying in a rural Nevada town Thursday evening.
“The camaraderie and working relationships are incredibly helpful to all of Nevada,” Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, commission chairman, said of the Asian offices.
After the conference, the commission is planning other group familiarization trips showcasing areas such as Tonopah, Beatty, Rhyolite, Death Valley, Pahrump, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Ely, Great Basin National Park and Pioche.
Separately, applications for projects to be considered for $200,000 in tourism grants opened Nov. 4, with a deadline of Jan. 17.
For its rural marketing grants, the commission received 85 requests this quarter totaling $675,628. Seventy-nine grants were approved for a total of $428,812.
“For those that were funded, they were distributed very fairly,” said Commissioner Don Newman, executive director of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority.
The Tourism Commission is in the midst of its fall/winter marketing campaign, which consists of 1,675 ads on 14 television stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, costing $1.3 million.
The most recent marketing study available regarding the commission’s advertising efforts found that its $1.3 million investment in the spring/summer 2013 campaign has resulted in a 22-to-1 return, compared with a 19-to-1 return the year before.
“I think generally speaking we’re moving in the right direction,” said Claudia Vecchio, Nevada Tourism and Cultural Affairs director.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at email@example.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.