RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Reno-Tahoe tourism numbers are up, thanks to special events and northern Nevada's family atmosphere.
Tourists returning to Reno are a huge part of our region's tourism income. Now, officials want new faces downtown.
Almost 50,000 bowlers are hitting the lanes in 2014 alone. Now add friends, family and a week of room accommodations, flights and dining. The result: a regional economic impact of $150 million in less than six months.
The United States Bowling Congress Open Championships is calling Reno home for the 12th time this year. This is Kevin Mikalouski's fifth trip to the Biggest Little City for the tournament. "It's all about the atmosphere, teammates. We have a lot of fun going out to dinner, different casinos, buffets."
Tourism numbers seem to reflect the bowling population. The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor's Authority said 88% of our 2013 tourists have been here before. Concerts, sports and an overall family environment all help the cause.
"Gaming is always a part of what we are going to be, but it can't be the primary sell anymore," said RCVA CEO Christopher Baum. "It's got to be an amenity you can take advantage of just like you can our museums and restaurants, special events and spas."
Baum said special events like the Open Championships are secret weapons towards success. The goal now is to attract first-time visitors by tapping into the southern states and the northwestern demographic. "This is a great base of loyal people who come back year in and year out. We can now build the Northwest, Texas, Midwest and Eastern markets and layer those on top."
Perhaps the region is simply selling itself through time. After five years of bowling trips, Mikalouski is ready to broaden his horizons. "This year, I am actually planning maybe to come back out on the train, and try a train trip to Reno and spend some time here later in the summer."
Of last year's visitors, 82% enjoyed their stay, while 73% expect to return to Reno again.