The names of two finalists to direct the state’s Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs — both from Northern Nevada — will be forwarded to Gov. Steve Sisolak for consideration.
Acting director Brenda Nebesky and Tony Lyle were selected Wednesday by the 10-member Nevada Commission on Tourism after 45-minute public interviews of five candidates at the commission’s quarterly meeting.
Commissioners were asked to recommend three names for Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, who chairs the commission, to forward to Sisolak. Commissioners could not reach a consensus on a third name and are asking Marshall to discuss the matter with the governor.
Nebesky is the current acting director of the department after having been a deputy director since 2018. She began at the commission as an art director in 2014 and previously held marketing and art positions with The Discovery Museum and Tacoma, Washington-based personnel and staffing company TrueBlue Inc.
Lyle, formerly a ski industry executive, is the vice president of tourism development for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. He held positions with Aramark Parks and Destinations, operators of Lake Tahoe Cruises and Zephyr Cove Resort, and with Vail Resorts in Colorado and Heavenly Mountain Resort and Montbleu Resort Casino, both in Lake Tahoe.
The three other candidates, all from Southern Nevada, were Melissa Evans, tribal administrator for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, who worked in economic development for Las Vegas; Ari Levin, a government affairs manager and a partnership specialist with the U.S. Commerce Department’s Census Bureau; and Jeff Klein, a public relations professional who has worked since 2011 with PR Plus.
The position has been vacant for more than two years since Claudia Vecchio resigned to become CEO of Sonoma County Tourism in California. Deputy directors have led the department since Vecchio’s departure.
The Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs oversees the state’s tourism marketing initiatives with the state’s museums, the Nevada Indian Commission and the arts. The office works mainly to promote rural tourism in the state and often is helped by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, whose top executives sit on the organization’s board of directors.
It was the second time this year that commissioners interviewed applicants. In the summer, commissioners rejected five applicants who had applied for the position.
It’s unclear how long it will be before Sisolak chooses the director.
Statewide Tourism Indicators
Key statewide tourism indicators for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years:
Category 2019 2018 Change
Room tax collections $25,1 million $24.6 million +1.9%
Visitor volume 56.5 million 56.5 million -0.1%
Occupancy level 83% 83.4% -0.4 points
Room inventory 194,374 192,326 +1.1%
Gross gaming revenue $11.9 billion $11.8 billion +0.8%
Convention attendance 6.9 million 6.8 million +0.9%
Statewide airport volume 55.2 million 53.7 million +2.7%