Nevada targets Mexican tourist market

Dec 11, 2007 6:16 AM

Se habla espanol? Speaking Spanish may be an asset as far as the Nevada tourism business is concerned.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism is launching plans to develop the lucrative Mexico travel market for skiing, golf and shopping, Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki recently announced.

"Mexico is Nevada’s third largest international market and a huge potential source of visitors and the revenue they generate for our state’s leading industry, tourism," Krolicki, commission chair, said. "Our research shows that internationally traveling Mexicans enjoy ski vacations, golf trips, shopping and entertainment, which Nevada offers in abundance."

Nevada and other destinations are aware that economic contributions of international tourism delivered nearly 51 million U.S. visitors who spent a record $108 billion on travel and tourism-related goods and services.

Mexican visitors to Nevada last year numbered more than 368,000 to Las Vegas alone, ranking just behind Canada, 1.4 million, and the United Kingdom, 388,000. The largest income group from Mexico earns $80,000 to $99,000 a year, visits Nevada an average of nearly six nights per trip and spends an average of $1,333 per person.

Las Vegas is the only city in Nevada that currently counts international visitors from countries of origin.

"International visitors are vital to Nevada’s tourism-based economy, and it is our goal to develop valuable markets such as Mexico and attract as many travelers as we can," state tourism Director Tim Maland said. "We need to work in the highly competitive tourism marketplace to get the business, which means familiarizing neighboring Mexico’s travel industry professionals with Nevada’s attractions that interest Mexican visitors. It will pay off for our economy."

Maland recently sent Spanish-speaking Larry Friedman, deputy director for Sales and Industry Partners, to the Visit USA Committee Mexico travel conference in Mexico to establish contacts and build business with representatives of Mexican airlines, travel agencies and tour operators. Friedman also conducted meetings earlier this month with numerous travel agents from Mexico, Central America and South America at La Cumbre Travel Industry Summit in Florida.

The tourism agency will work to increase its contact with Mexico’s tourism industry and arrange familiarization tours to enable Mexican tour operators and travel journalists to experience Nevada’s attractions first-hand, Maland said.

Plans include developing a Spanish language Web site, brochures and printed material and producing a ski familiarization tour to Reno-Lake Tahoe this winter.

"Developing the Mexican tourism market will take a lot of work directly with Mexican travel industry professionals in Mexico if we are to succeed," Maland said. "In today’s fiercely competitive tourism market, one can’t expect to get the business by staying home and assuming they will come."

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons promoted tourism to Nevada during an official visit to Mexico in August for meetings with top-ranking government officials. During his visit the governor called for strengthening relationships and improving access to Nevada for visitors from Mexico and other countries.