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Rural Nevada seen as a growing international tourist draw

Beatty appeals to international visitors because it’s close to the Rhyolite ghost town — an appealing side trip for those making the journey, according to state tourism officials.

“It’s funny, there’s more French than English spoken in Beatty at some times of the year because that’s the best way to access Death Valley National Park,” said Larry Friedman, an executive with the Nevada Tourism Commission, on Tuesday.

The comment came while discussing the state’s new Global Tourism Summit — the event replacing the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism — to be held Nov. 16-17 in Southern Nevada.

The commission agreed last month to change the format of the largest statewide tourism event to capitalize on the emphasis marketers have taken to attract international visitors to the state.

Friedman, the commission’s director of international sales and its point man for rural tourism marketing, announced the summit’s dates at a meeting of the Destination Services Association, a group of Southern Nevada tourism-based businesses.

He said Germans have adopted a following for U.S. Highway 50 across the Nevada, the so-called “loneliest road in America.”

Friedman said foreign visitors are big on finding the “est” in their travels — the loneliest, the lowest and the oldest. Highway 50 is the loneliest road; the bristlecone pines of Great Basin National Park are believed to be the oldest living things; and Death Valley is home to the lowest point in the United States.

Rural Nevada capitalizes on parks to support the tourism businesses far from the Strip. Friedman said a Nevada tourism brochure featuring a picture of a geologic feature at Valley of Fire State Park that had been sent to Germany resulted in a large number of German tourists requesting information on how to get there.

“Sometimes, you take your backyard for granted,” Friedman said of the possibility that rural Nevada is more popular with foreign visitors than with state residents.

“We get so busy with our everyday lives that we can’t find time to see things that are so close by,” he said.

The Global Tourism Summit will feature educational sessions on marketing to foreign travelers and will include a marketplace for buyers to speak directly with Nevada representatives based in key international markets.

The state and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have representatives in several countries, including Canada, Mexico, China, South Korea, Great Britain, France, Brazil and Australia.

The state is embarking on an effort to expand its marketing presence in India. Friedman said the reason for targeting India — a country with no direct flights to Las Vegas — is that California is home to 600,000 people of Indian descent.

The state believes that Indians traveling to California to visit their families may be persuaded to make a trip to Nevada to see its attractions.

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