Last year was the best for Reno-Tahoe tourism since 2008, officials said, led by the first double-digit increase in taxable room revenues in more than a decade.
Year-end figures show lodging-related economic indicators rising on several fronts, notably room rates, which reached a daily average of $83.66 for all hotels in Washoe County in 2013, up 9.6 percent from 2012 and the biggest annual increase since 2007.
“After five years of little growth, Reno-Tahoe hotels and resorts enjoyed considerable improvements in taxable revenues,” said Chris Baum, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority.
The keys to 2013’s success, Baum said in a news conference, were the U.S. Bowling Congress’s Open and Women’s Championships last spring followed by a robust special events season, particularly in August with Hot August Nights’ inaugural Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, which sold $14.2 million worth of vintage vehicles.
The area’s average daily room rate in August surpassed $100 for the first time, which officials said reflected the region’s success in elevating quality in a resort-based destination.
That helped lift the 12-month daily room rate by 9.6 percent over 2012, Baum said, but added that the $83.66 rate is still below the 2013 nationwide average of $106 calculated by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
“If we have an above-average product, we need to get closer to that ($106) number,” Baum said.
December showed some slippage in RSCVA data compared with a year earlier, but whether the subpar snowpack in the Sierra helped keep visitors away was uncertain.
Baum said the drought, which has continued into January and shows signs of continuing into February, is being offset by artificial snow-making at many Sierra ski resorts.
“The quality of the snow is quite good. Hopefully, we can salvage something in the first quarter from a ski perspective,” he said.
Baum said he hears that lodge operators in the Lake Tahoe area are finding conditions “not great” for filling rooms.
But, he added, “I’ve also heard that people are out paddleboarding or out bike riding, things that might typically be a fall or spring activity, (but) now can be done in the first quarter.
“It’s just a different variety or mix of sports that you might assume in January or February.
“Hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate with us through the rest of the winter.”
For the coming year, Baum expects some “flattening” of tourism data trends, but he said the return of the men’s and women’s bowling championships starting next month in Reno and continuing through June will be welcome, with an estimated 140,000 room nights already blocked out by area hotels.
Source: Reno Gazette Journal