RENO, Nev. (AP) — Visitors to the Reno-Lake Tahoe area stayed longer, spent more money and brought their children along more often last year than they did two years earlier, according to a new tourism survey that suggests targeting families in future marketing efforts.
The tourists with kids spent more than groups with only adults and stayed nearly twice as long in 2013 — averaging 6.2 days compared to 3.2 days, officials for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority said Thursday.
While gambling "remains the core visitor activity, other events and activities are drawing visitors and their dollars," concludes a report on the survey being presented Thursday to the authority's board of directors.
"Families are identified in the data as an exciting opportunity for growth. More adults brought their children with them to the area compared with 2011. They stayed longer, spent more and left wanting to return," it said.
The share of families traveling with children under age 21 increased from 27 percent in 2011 to 35 percent last year. On average, they spent $773 while adults-only visitors spent $637, the survey found.
"It not only shows that the region is doing a phenomenal job of retaining loyal customers, but it also proves that the message of Reno-Tahoe as a family friendly destination is drawing a new group of multigenerational visitors," said Christopher Baum, the visitor authority's president and CEO.
Individual visitor spending increased 9 percent to $685 last year, about one-third of that on gambling. About one-fifth of them came for the day and didn't stay overnight. Those who stayed averaged 4.3 days in 2013, up from 3.5 in 2011.
Carlton Geer, president and CEO of the JA Nugget hotel-casino in Sparks, said the results are consistent with the private market research affiliates of Global Gaming & Hospitality conducted before purchasing the former John Ascuaga's Nugget late last year.
"Our research showed the economy was improving in Northern California, the Reno-Sparks area's main feeder market," said Geer, who has launched a $50 million renovation of the casino with two hotel towers. He said Northern California's economic outlook is the "single best indicator of future success" in the Reno-Sparks area.