Northern Nevada now has a unique opportunity when promoting the region to future travelers, especially those who enjoy the outdoors, according to the leader of the nation’s top travel consortium.

The Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority heard a presentation from Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Travel Association.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization works to build travel to and within the United States through advocacy, research, forums, webinars and hybrid events.
During the virtual meeting, Dow discussed trends and the current state of travel within the United States and how the top desire of would-be travelers is to experience the outdoors.

“The outdoors is winning, so you’re got a great story to tell,” Dow said. “When you really look at it, you’re in a very unique position, I think. You’ve got Lake Tahoe nearby, you’ve got the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you’ve got the largest number of ski areas in North America…”
Dow cited the “Let’s Go There” campaign, a national initiative his organization developed during the COVID-19 pandemic that recommended types of travel-related activities that could be done safely.

It also encouraged Americans to think about future vacations and to make plans to go when the moment is right.

He encouraged RSCVA officials to use some of the campaign’s techniques because research shows Americans are tired of staying home and want to travel.
“Drive market is only down 5%, so what a monstrous opportunity to go regional,” Dow said. “I think it’s made for you.”

Reengaging international travelers will be the most challenging because there isn’t consistency between countries when it comes to COVID-19 testing, quarantine and vaccinations, Dow said.
“The most important thing we have to do—that we have to start with—are health and safety measures and making those a top priority,” Dow said. “It’s a shared responsibility. It’s not just what you’re doing. It’s what the travelers have to do: wear masks, distancing, washing their hands. If we do all these things, we will bring back travel more quickly.”
Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority CEO Daren Griffin said ramping up cleaning efforts were among the first actions taken at Reno-Tahoe International Airport when the pandemic hit last spring.

“That’s a major shift our industry has had to make and we’re still in that mode promoting safety of air travel and safety of flight when people are able, willing and comfortable to move around again,” Griffin said.
“People are waiting to make travel plans right now for spring, potentially more likely summer,” Griffin said. “So I think we’re kind of where we’re going to be for a while. It could be a few months as the vaccine program hopefully accelerates, consumer confidence will follow.”