While Nevada's economy continues to struggle, and our friends and families are losing their jobs, even their homes...state tourism officials are finding creative ways to bring money back into our economy.
Most recently, tourism leaders have cashed in on a country that's more than 8,000 miles away from the Truckee Meadows....China. Under a new Chinese-American agreement, Northern Nevada will soon become a lot more appealing to our neighbors overseas, especially those who play golf.
In China, only the wealthiest residents can afford to golf. Tourism officials figured if they could bring Chinese golfers to our area, they could also bring in a lot of money.
A group of golfers from Beijing are also C-E-O's, hotel owners and elite businessmen. They came to Nevada to golf this week, but while they're here, they'll also eat in our restaurants, stay at our hotels, and spend money at our local attractions.
"It's always been my dream to come to the U.S.A. for so many years," said golfer David Li.
But only now is it possible. The new Chinese-American agreement signed in June, allows tour operators in China to advertise directly to leisure groups, an act that was previously unsanctioned.
Karen Chen with Nevada's Tourism Commission says the weak U-S dollar makes our area even more attractive.
"They come here without a budget. They can buy anything they like," said Chen.
She says they've already spent thousands of dollars here...buying clothes at the pro shops, and eating at the fanciest restaurants. By the end of the week, their contribution to our local economy could be profound.
"So far, so good. I like it here. The people are friendly and there's blue sky," said Li.
And if they like it...the elite, the leaders of wealthy Chinese society, others may too. These men say they plan on telling all their friends and colleagues about our area...the golf greens, the nightlife, the people.
"Many, many people around me want to come here, because they've heard a lot of things about the U.S.A. There's a lot of influence, the movies, the culture," he added.
Chen says the new agreement could bring thousands of wealthy Chinese tourists to Northern Nevada, a part of the U.S. they may never have thought of before...and when they come, she says they'll be more than ready to spend.
"China has a 1.4 billion population. We hope they all come visit us here," said Chen.
The biggest change in this new agreement is the amount of time Chinese tourists are spending in Northern Nevada. In the past, this wasn't a destination for them, so they may spend only a day or so here, while they're en route somewhere else.
Now, this is their destination...so if they are say, on a golfing trip...they may spend close to a week here, hitting all the courses...including Tahoe, Reno, and the surrounding areas.