|By Chris Jones, Las Vegas Review-Journal|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 22, 2005 - Nevada hosted more than 50.5 million visitors in 2004, a single-year record, state tourism leaders confirmed Monday in Carson City.
Last year's statewide visitor tally was approximately 500,000 more than previously projected, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt said.
The state's 4 percent tourism growth was powered by a record of nearly 34.7 million Las Vegas visitors, up 5.2 percent from 2003, and to a lesser extent, a successful effort to attract so-called "adventure travelers" to rural areas.
Washoe County, which includes Lake Tahoe's North Shore, hosted nearly 5 million visitors last year, up 2.1 percent, while all other Nevada counties combined for 2.4 million visitors, a 4 percent increase, the Nevada Commission on Tourism reported.
Laughlin reported more than 4 million visitors, a 3.5 percent decrease, while Mesquite had nearly 1.74 million visitors, up 2.7 percent.
Gov. Kenny Guinn first announced the state would top the 50 million mark in a Dec. 7 speech at the Governor's Conference on Tourism in Reno. In a precursor to his 2005-2007 budget unveiled in late January, the Republican lawmaker called for state leaders to use the recent tourism windfall to help pay for various nontourism improvements he believes will make Nevada more attractive to different industries.
Bruce Bommarito, executive director of the state tourism commission, presented the revised visitor total to members of Nevada Legislature's budgeting committee on Monday.
The previous state record of more than 49.5 million annual visitors was set in 2000. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, visitor totals slipped the following two years before rebounding to 48.6 million in 2003.
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