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Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Strip fall short in Nevada tourism survey

CARSON CITY – Sorry, Charlie. Hoover Dam and the Strip aren’t that cool anymore. They don’t even make the Top 5 list for Southern Nevada in the state Tourism Commission’s Discover Your Nevada online survey of the state’s scenic treasures.

Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon and the Colorado River all were selected by online voters as top sights to visit in the Las Vegas Territory.

But also on the Top 5 list are Desert Adventures of Boulder City and Overton’s Awesome Adventures Tours, private companies that take visitors on tours to scenic areas throughout Southern Nevada.

Voters could select any sights they wanted. And the two private tour companies helped generate enough votes to make the list.

Because voters already have narrowed the most scenic sights to five in each area, it’s too late for people to vote the Strip and Hoover Dam to the final list.

The winning sights or companies in each of six Nevada territories won’t get any state money to promote themselves, but they will get bragging rights – and are expected to add their victories to their ad copy.

Some will get a little help from Gov. Brian Sandoval and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who will visit some of the top sights during three auto tours of Nevada.

Sandoval got a head start last week as he visited the Belmont and Rhyolite ghost towns with his family as they traveled to Las Vegas.

SURVEY RESULTS CALLED A SURPRISE

Tourism Commission spokeswoman Bethany Drysdale said people can vote once a day at discoveryournevada.com for any of the five remaining sights for the No. 1 spot as the contest heads for a May 4 finish. Winners will be announced the following week.

"A lot more people are voting in Northern Nevada," Drysdale said. "I don’t know why. There could be friends and fans who are actively voting for sights (in Northern Nevada)."

In addition, she said the Discover Your Nevada campaign has received a lot of attention in rural Nevada newspapers.

Drysdale was surprised by the survey’s picks in Southern Nevada. She could not understand why Hoover Dam, the new O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge nearby or the Strip didn’t even make the Top 5 in the Las Vegas area. Hoover Dam had made the poll’s Top 10 list .

Almost all of the 40 million people who visit Las Vegas area each year at least drive on the Strip, and many head out to see the dam if they have a spare afternoon. The dam is often acclaimed as the finest example of American resiliency during the Great Depression. The dam also was named one of the seven industrial wonders of the world.

Drysdale said voters themselves made the nominations, with no limit to the "Nevada treasures" they could nominate. She credits the private travel companies for getting people to vote for them, adding the nominations were not limited to "natural treasures."

The Strip, also is private, she said, as is the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, which has its supporters in that region of the state.

LAKE TAHOE ALSO NOT ON LIST

Hoover Dam and the Strip aren’t the only losers in this contest.

Lake Tahoe did not finish in the top five in Reno-Tahoe Territory. The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park in Minden finished first in that area. The ranch offers a nice journey back into late 19th century ranching but is hardly a national treasure like Lake Tahoe.

In this contest, voters cast ballots for scenic sights in any of the six Tourism Commission designated territories: Pony Express, Indian, Cowboy, Nevada Silver Trails, Reno-Tahoe and Las Vegas.

The list started with dozens of sights selected by voters in each of the areas. The number has been whittled down to the Top 5 as online voting continues.

Jill Williams, owner of Awesome Adventures Tours in Overton, said she is asking her customers and employees to cast online votes daily for her company. She is using social media to tout the company and its tours.

The company took 1,300 visitors, many of them foreign, to Valley of Fire, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam and other sights in Southern Nevada last month.

So far, Awesome Adventures Tours is the third-most popular sight in Las Vegas Territory, while Desert Adventures is fifth.

"We are a small company, and we are really pushing for this," Williams said. "We have solicited voting. Others aren’t using the potential of social media. We really want to build up our area for tourism."

She added her company picks up most of its customers at hotels along the Strip.

SURVEY TERMED UNSCIENTIFIC

Vince Alberta, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, notes the state Tourism Commission is not conducting a scientific poll and added no one is actively campaigning for the Strip.

Alberta said Las Vegas ranked as the No. 1 travel destination in America in a fall poll by Travel Leaders. The organization polled 443 travel agents and companies . Also, Forbes Travel recently named the Strip as second to Times Square in New York for the most popular tourism attractions in the nation.

Drysdale said private tour companies in Southern Nevada and Dangberg Ranch supporters are just getting the word out about Nevada’s scenic treasures better than others.

"We are trying to raise awareness about the state’s scenic treasures."

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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