Reno-Tahoe tourism positioned to bounce back

Published on : Thursday, December 3, 2020

In Nevada, tourism is a major industry, accounting for more than a quarter of all jobs available. When Nevada outsiders think of the state, they first think of the Las Vegas Strip, however, tourism is key to the Truckee Meadows as it is to our neighbors in the south.

Over five million tourists visited the Reno-Sparks area in 2017. It was for the first time that so many visitors had since before the Great Recession. City officials have explained that in the newspapers that the area was going through a renaissance in tourism industry. This lasted for few years before the pandemic crashed it down.

Health experts and economists alike have cautioned that the current global crisis is still much more to be done. There appear to be signs in northern Nevada that the tourism industry is all set to bounce again and new CEOs for two of the biggest tourism-related organizations of the region are keeping an eye on the future, even as they’re learning the ins and outs of the Truckee Meadows.

As the CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, Daren Griffin had started his job back in August. This was a time when the airport would normally be preparing for the week of Burning Man and the large tourist numbers and dollars that follows. Rather he walked into an airport that was functioning at about 40% of its usual figures.

Looking back on his decades in the air travel industry, Griffin can’t think of anything that’s been as jeopardizing as the pandemic.

“Think about 9/11—and 9/11 was a cataclysmic event for air service because air service was the weapon, if you will, and it … shook the industry to its core,” he said. “But the reality of it is, a week after its occurrence, airlines were back flying again—and Americans immediately resumed flying. There was some trepidation around safety, and, of course, we saw a lot of changes to our commercial air service system here in the United States after that.

But that was a one-week hit. … But to basically have to shut down for a month, which is what happened in April, and then slowly come back and live off 30% or 40% of the passengers that you used to have, and we’re in month eight now … There is just nothing that compares to this in terms of economic impact.”

Griffin said that the airport has aimed on a few different things—one being safety, and another business continuity. Pairing safety with travel promotion has been a delicate task.

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