Tesla plant, airport service increase aids in Reno-area tourism growth

Annie Conway


Tesla Motors’ selection of the Reno area for its highly sought $5 billion battery factory could have economic impacts to Truckee/Tahoe.

RENO, Nev. — New companies that are expanding and opening in Northern Nevada, along with the upswing in the economy, are having a positive effect on the tourism industry.

“With the increase of the economy we are seeing more business travel and we are well positioned for that (increase),” Jennifer Cunningham, interim managing director for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, said.

Due to companies settling in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC), and the new companies Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) is bringing to Reno-Sparks, Reno and Northern Nevada is now getting national recognition from publications like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal who have published articles identifying that northern Nevada is a good place to do business.

“It elevates us on a different platform,” Cunningham said. “It has really expanded our Reno-Tahoe brand.”

“You drop a pebble in the pond and ripples hit all shores.”Lance GilmanTahoe-Reno Industrial Center

As of February 2016, RSCVA has seen an increase of room revenues by 17 percent year-to-date.

RSCVA has always focused on a two-prong approach to promote both convention and tourism business to the Reno-Sparks area based on the value of the destination and the amenities the hotels have to offer.

However, for the past 18 months, they have been able to leverage the growth in the region as a way to market to tourists and groups interested in holding conventions.

According to Cunningham, the relocation of new businesses to the area is also stimulating a lot of corporate business. The RSCVA is working on a concentrated effort to market to the corporate community.

Air service to Reno-Tahoe International Airport is also increasing.

According to the January 2016 numbers that were reported by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, the total passengers are up 5.4 percent and air cargo also increased by 18.1 percent.

“We are always trying to increase air service to Reno,” Cunningham said.

The increases are due to new flights on Jet Blue, Alaska and Volaris, which makes it easier for people to travel to Northern Nevada for both business travel and recreational tourism. Southwest Airlines will start their non-stop flights between Reno and Oakland on June 5.

“Proximity wise we are in a really good geographic place,” Cunningham said.

RSCVA also works with EDAWN and the new companies settling in the region to promote tourism in the area.

Last week, Cunningham took a small group out to Tesla to meet and greet the company. RSCVA provided information and brochures for the company’s employees who would be settling in the region and for their family and friends who will visit them.

Much of the global attention to northern Nevada is due to the companies in TRIC.

“The Tesla transaction, which was globally announced, was what really put TRIC on the world stage,” Lance Gilman, principal and director of TRIC, said.

Prior to the Tesla announcement, there were already 130 companies in TRIC. Since Tesla and other companies like Switch and Panasonic started settling in the region it has captured attention across the United States and Europe.

“You drop a pebble in the pond and ripples hit all shores,” Gilman said about the Tesla effect and growth in northern Nevada.

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