File photo
Events like the Rotary ice Fishing Derby help bring tourists to Ely during the slow winter season.

By Kay-Lynn Roberts-McMurray

The Ely Times

A special meeting was held by the White Pine County Tourism and Rec Board last Friday to review a strategic plan, since there had not been a strategic plan in place.

Caroline McIntosh, Tour and Rec Board member, researched several other plans, and comprised a draft strategic plan mirrored off of the Reno and Sparks Convention and Visitors Authorities strategic plan.

Their mission statement is to develop partnerships and tools necessary to assist other partnerships in enticing visitors to this community through tourism, recreation and conventions.

“I would hope that we all have an open mind and look at this as an overall picture, not as we shouldn’t, we haven’t or we won’t,” McIntosh said. “The goal is to become a tourism community.”

A new slogan “All Aboard Ely Nevada” would be used on all marketing materials creating consistency in presentation. McIntosh mentioned the use of low cost opportunities such as social media efforts. Facebook and twitter are the new method to reach state, nationwide and international levels of tourism.

The board is looking to create a scope of a 550-mile radius on marketing efforts that would cover southern California, Boise, Idaho, Tuscon, Arizona, Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake, Utah and Las Vegas.

The Ely Rotary Ice Fishing Derby is one of the largest events held here in Ely, and the majority of the participants are from the Las Vegas area, but that’s only one weekend a year.

There was discussion to hold more winter events, especially with winters being so hard here in Ely when it comes to drawing in tourists.

“I also feel that winter time is one of our slowest times of the year and we need to promote winter time activities,” Board member, Bruce Setterstrom said. “I think with Cummins Lake coming on board, we have Cave Lake, Cummin and Illipah for great ice fishing opportunities.”

It was mentioned over and over that the guiding principle would need to be partnership and collaboration.

The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts have been doing a tremendous job in creating outdoor activities, but more marketing efforts could be made to help bring in more participants from outside of Ely.

Another attraction that was discussed was the White Pine Golf Course. Better signage needs to be created, and more efforts on promoting it.

Chairman, Shane Bybee said “one thing I’d like to point out is that I think one of our most under utilized facilities is our golf course, we have endless opportunities there”.

The board discussed having an annual review of the strategic plan to ensure they are reaching their annual targets. The board also came up with the a online reservation program called White Pine Ticket.

A website would need to be created that would be utilized for tourists to book an event that would include lodging, events and attractions that could be paid for online.

This project could be handled by the Chamber of Commerce to manage and help them by bringing in revenue from it.

“The thing I like about that is that it drops some long term sustainability in their lap, it gives them an opportunity for revenue not only help them maintain but build,” Bybee said.

Having a visitor center that is open seven days a week was discussed. The Chamber of Commerce is a great location being right on Aultman Street, bus as of right now they are only open Monday through Fridays.

McIntosh mentioned having the convention center staff be available on the weekends to work at the chamber, but there is not enough staff to do that at this time.

Everything with the strategic plan speaks transparency, partnerships and collaboration.

“I think we need to be willing to spend money on developing a marketing and social media plan,” McIntosh said. “We are gonna have to really take the budget apart and see what the new goals are and what gives us the best return. Social media is one of the greatest levers that we have in helping everyone here, everything we do needs to show a return.”