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Tourism leaders may go different route in promoting rural Nevada

Tourism leaders are considering using a little reverse psychology to persuade Nevadans to get out of the city and into the back country to visit rural parts of the state.

The marketing committee of the Nevada Commission on Tourism on Thursday said they could deliver a list of 15 reasons not to go to Lake Mead or Lake Tahoe, a strategy that could draw considerable attention but ultimately result in a higher level of interest.

The proposal is a local spin on campaigns that some organizations are using to draw attention to their products.

“It’s a little dangerous at first glance,” said Commissioner Don Newman.

The committee didn’t recommend a plan but discussed the proposal in connection with the state’s “Discover Your Nevada” program.

The 4-year-old program is designed to publicize rural destinations and events to urban audiences. The program has no advertising budget and most of the publicity is developed by the office’s in-house public relations department.

Tourism Commission Director Claudia Vecchio said in most states, visitation to rural attractions from in-state urban visitors ranges from 25 percent to 50 percent. But in Nevada, Vecchio said only 6 percent of visitors to rural settings come from in-state residents.

Bethany Drysdale, who heads the department’s public relations efforts, said her staff also is working to develop a list of seven Nevada road trips that would guide local and out-of-state travelers to out-of-the-way destinations.

The road trips under consideration would call attention to the Extraterrestrial Highway (State Route 375); Arts Along 95, a detour off U.S. Highway 95 near Goldfield, home of the International Car Forest of the Last Church; the State Parks and Recreation Highway, U.S. Highway 93, which leads to several state parks in Lincoln County; the Burner Byway, between Fernley and Gerlach and the Black Rock Desert, named for attendees of the Burning Man festival; U.S. Highway 50, the “Loneliest Road in America,” which is observing the 30th anniversary of bearing that nickname; the Scenic Interstate 80 Detour, a mountainous region between Elko and Lamoille in the Ruby Mountains; and Ghost Town Routes, a compilation of the most scenic Nevada ghost towns.

The Discover Your Nevada program in the past has incorporated online destination popularity votes, geocache and scavenger hunts and road trips taken by Gov. Brian Sandoval and former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, who chairs the Tourism Commission, said he also wants to get in on promoting rural Nevada.

“I think there are a lot of people in Nevada who don’t even know about these places,” he said.

Drysdale said she hopes to solidify the road trip campaign by May when the state is scheduled to unveil a smartphone application that will include maps and information on rural Nevada attractions.

— Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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