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Tourism board gets $340,000 to market town

The Pahrump Tourism and Convention Council will embark on a number of different projects to promote tourism in the area thanks to the Pahrump Town Board.

The PTCC will receive more than $300,000 for marketing projects essential to luring more visitors to the valley.

By a 4-1 vote, the board approved the request of the PTCC advisory board to pursue fiscal year (FY) 2014 projects including a FY 2014 grant cycle with the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s matching grants program.

Chairman of the Board Harley Kulkin provided the lone “nay” vote.

“I noticed a pattern of every year we spend a little bit more. It is tourism dollars for attracting tourists. I don’t like wasting money because we are the caretakers of the people’s money and this is one part of the people’s money so to speak. Three hundred and forty thousand dollars is a lot of money. I’m a business person and if I spend that kind of money, I expect to get a lot more in return,” he said.

Local winery owner and Pahrump Tourism Advisory Board member Jack Sanders said efforts are regularly made to promote Pahrump as a genuine tourist destination, especially in the Las Vegas area.

“I explained that to someone just today. How do we know how much money should be spent on certain items? There are some cases where we really don’t know where it should be spent because we don’t know who is going to come to us to apply for grants. Let’s take the town board for example. The town has now taken over the fall festival and the town board has not come to us for promotion yet. Are we going to advertise in Pahrump? No, because we are not allowed to because it has to be spent outside a 50-mile radius. But you better believe that the greatest market we have is Clark County and surrounding areas,” he said.

The $340,000 request comes roughly two weeks after the town board voted to accept another project to lure more tourists to the valley.

The board voted this month to accept the third interim report from Contour Entertainment on the “Adventure Springs” project at the Pahrump Fairgrounds.

Since spring 2011, more than $250,000 has been spent on the initial phases of the project but still no ground has officially been broken at the site.

Both projects are funded from the town’s room tax fund.

According to the FY 2014 budget, the town calculates that approximately $500,000 will be available for regional marketing projects including new, continuing, and expansion efforts on those already implemented.

Noted in the town’s backup material, PTCC Chair Kelli Buffi said that the marketing projects will allow Pahrump to establish a wider presence in the tourism market and not continue to be a mere stop on the way to other destinations.

“The Town of Pahrump must become competitive in specific market segments including Death Valley and Las Vegas as well as broader ranges of national and international markets. Promoting the Town of Pahrump via the tourism website, print ads, promotions, itineraries, consumer travel shows and public relations is imperative to success. With both the RV market and Vegas community, the PTCC has focused on the RVers to create a return visitor base and would like to continue these efforts. Additionally, PTCC would like to gain exposure nearby and educate the traveler exactly what Pahrump has to offer only one hour from Las Vegas. This will be especially appealing to the Las Vegas population for weekend and mid-week getaways,” Buffi stated.

Kulkin noted that over the years he has been a very vocal supporter of finding creative ways to attract more visitors to Pahrump.

“I have been saying for quite some time that we spend a lot of money telling people to come to Pahrump but we don’t have any reasons. I feel very strongly about that and I have been trying for two years to get a board created to work with the different entities in town to create events here and I can’t get anywhere. We are apparently going to spend $340,000 telling people to come to Pahrump but nothing has changed. Front Sight does its own marketing, the racetrack does its own marketing so what do we have left for the people to take an interest in Pahrump?” he asked.

Town of Pahrump Tourism Coordinator Arlette Ledbetter was quick to respond to Kulkin’s query.

She spoke about two locations in the heart of Pahrump that constantly attract visitors to the community on a regular basis.

“I think you will find a tremendous interest in Nevada’s wine country. We have 50 percent of the wineries in the state of Nevada. One of the markets that we would wish to succeed in is Las Vegas and that is where the greatest interest is for the wine tours. We have been having a tremendous success there. More success than we were aware of until recently. Another one is the national parks. We had no presence in Death Valley National Park or the southern California national parks. This year in June was our first break-in to that market. We have a full page ad in the Oh Ranger guide and we have a half page ad in the southern California parks guide and I think that is going to be a very fruitful advertising mechanism for us. The main reason is Pahrump has the amenities,” she said.

Kulkin mentioned another small rural town in northern Nevada which for decades has been a very popular tourist destination but has a much smaller population base than Pahrump.

“Even Virginia City has something going on every weekend to bring in lots of people to their town and we don’t have anything like that going on. It’s just like buying a new set of tires and you don’t have a car to put them on,” he said.

Ledbetter noted as recently as April of this year, the community welcomed more than 200 visitors when the annual “Rural Roundup” was held in Pahrump.

She recalled the town manager engaging in something that she had never seen him do before.

“They all enjoyed themselves thoroughly. My thanks to Bill when he did the “YMCA” dance at the Rural Roundup. We have a lot to offer and we have to cultivate that. We have to market it properly and our ultimate goal is always ‘heads in beds.’ We want people to spend the night here. Go to our website and you will see what we have to offer,” she said.

Sanders, meanwhile, said that as of late, the number of visitors to Pahrump has increased by leaps and bounds.

“We keep very close track of that. People who have never been to Pahrump are coming here. They go to the wineries; they are going to Front Sight and Spring Mountain Motor Ranch. The Spring Mountain Motor Ranch is as high-end as it can get as far as marketing is concerned and all of these businesses are in a community partnership. If you take a look at Golden Gaming’s advertising, you are going to see cross-promotion. If you take a look at our promotions, you are going to see that we are constantly cross-promoting and it’s the tourism dollars that are supporting that,” he said.

The chief tourist draw this year will be the 2013 Pahrump Fall Festival scheduled to take place September 26 through the 29th at Petrack Park.

The four-day event will kick off that Thursday evening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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