Reno tourism dollars up for 2013

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Reno tourism dollars up for 2013

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Last year was the most successful year for tourism in Washoe County since 2008.

The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority reports that the average daily hotel room rate was $83.66 last year, up more than 9.5 percent from 2012. Hotel occupancy also increased nearly 3 percent.

The Authority's CEO Christopher Baum says when he first arrived in Reno two years ago he was surprised at how cheap it was to rent a hotel room in the region:

"This industry here started with a major focus on gaming. And the old gaming model was you charge lower rates than the norm and you make it up on the gaming spend on the property. But as gaming has become more of an amenity and less the sole focus for Reno, I think we need to update our pricing so we are more in accord with what people pay in other markets that offer comparable, or in many cases inferior, products."

Baum says the national average room rate is $106.

Higher room rates and more room rentals last year resulted in an additional $25 million in taxable room revenues compared to 2012. That's a 12 percent spike and the largest increase in more than a decade. Baum credits that improvement to more tourist and business travel, which are growing again as the national economy continues to recover.

"People are tired of staying home," Baum explains. "They got out on the road again for weekend getaways. And business travelers have to see their customers face-to-face. And those trends are expected to continue into 2014."

Baum says he expects tourism numbers this year to flatten or slightly decline, but the return of large events tied to organizations like the United States Bowling Congress will provide a steady stream of dollars.