RENO, Nev. (AP) — Northern Nevada tourism officials say they've seen a significant spike in convention bookings, but continue to struggle with a drop in government business because of a misconception that casino resorts cost more than other hotels.
The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority signed contracts for nearly 50 percent more rooms going forward compared with the previous year — 163,259 in fiscal 2013-14 compared to 110,000, said Chris Baum, the authority's president and chief operating officer.
"It is some very positive momentum," Baum said Monday.
"We are making significant progress on advance bookings and future bookings on a definite basis," he told The Associated Press.
The so-called "definite" rooms locked into convention contracts make up about 20 percent of the Reno-Sparks area's total room nights in any given year, Baum said.
The biggest new deals include Triple Crown Sports, an organizer of youth sports tournaments that has booked 22,756 room nights for four events planned in 2014-15.
Overall, room revenues grew 12 percent from 2012 to 2013 — the first double-digit increase in taxable room revenues in more than a decade, the visitors authority said. Room rates reached a daily average of more than $83 for all hotels in Washoe County, a 9.6 percent gain from 2012 and the biggest annual increase since 2007.
Before the recession, the authority typically booked about 50,000 rooms annually for government-financed conventions alone, but in recent years that figure has fallen to below 10,000, Baum said.
"The last time I checked it was 9,000. We don't see any change in that," he said. "Government planners are still under the impression they will get in trouble if they book something in a resort area."
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