Safari Club International

People who are looking to book a hotel room in Reno picked the wrong week. The Safari Club is in town.

The gathering of 23,000 big game hunters, guides and outfitters is the largest convention that takes place in Reno-Sparks and ranks 118th on a list of the top 200 trade shows across the country.

They come from all over - Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Russia, China, Canada.

This week, they're all in the Reno-Sparks area for the 35th Safari Club International Convention. Starting Wednesday, they'll pack the Reno-Sparks Convention Center as well as hotel rooms, casinos and restaurants.

Its estimated economic impact ranges from $16 million to twice that amount.

"Annually, it's one of the biggest and most important conventions for our entire city," said Gary Carano, general manager of the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.

"The profile of this conventioneer is very good," said Steve Trounday, vice president of marketing for the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. "They are generally wealthy individuals who can afford to take safaris."

The Grand Sierra is the convention's headquarters hotel.

"We have a lot of functions here at night. Dinners and such," Trounday said. "They have the dinners, then they go out in the casino and play."

Other hotels are benefiting from the gathering.

"It's a great piece of business at an opportune time in the season," Carano said. "This isn't the busiest time, especially this year, with fewer skiers because of the lack of snow."

The Sierra Club came to Reno-Sparks for the first time in 1998 when attendance was just 2,500.

In October, the Safari Club added a year to its contract with the convention and visitors authority, guaranteeing the gathering will be held in Reno annually through 2010.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)