RENO, Nev. — The Nevada Commission on Tourism brought its first tour group to Reno and Lake Tahoe under a new U.S.-China agreement that swings open the door to lucrative leisure group travel, Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki, chair of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, announced Tuesday. Later this week, the Chinese travelers will visit West Wendover and Las Vegas.

Six of the 25 visitors are top officials of golf clubs in China, including one of the country’s 10 best, and will play in Reno to help promote Chinese golf tours to the Silver State. The other 19 travelers are on a driving tour to visit attractions in Reno, Lake Tahoe, Virginia City, West Wendover and Las Vegas, where they will go aerial sightseeing over the Grand Canyon.

“This is a historic tourism visit that heralds great potential economic benefits for Nevada,” Krolicki said. “When these golf club officials tee off on our beautiful courses and the sightseeing group experiences the awesome mountains, exciting entertainment, historic sites and resort amenities Nevada offers, they will take home a compelling story that will generate many more leisure groups from China and help bolster our tourism-based economy.”

The international agreement, finalized this year, allows tour operators to advertise directly to Chinese leisure groups and book group travel to U.S. destinations. Previously, group tours were unsanctioned in China and had to be arranged by word-of-mouth and personal relationships. Karen Chen, the commission’s chief representative in China, created the tour itineraries.

The golf group played Monday at Edgewood Tahoe golf course at Lake Tahoe and will play in Reno Tuesday at Lakeridge Golf Course, Wednesday at Arrowcreek Country Club and Thursday at Sommersett Country Club. The golfers include Honglin Zhao, general manager of DaLian Jinshi Golf Club in the city of DaLian in China’s Liaoning Province, which ranks in the top 10 among China’s hundreds of golf clubs. The golfers also will visit Reno’s National Automobile Museum before departing Sept. 19 for San Francisco and China.

The sightseeing group, which flew from China to San Francisco and drove to Reno Monday, will visit the automobile museum and other attractions in the Reno, Lake Tahoe and Virginia City area before setting out Sept. 17 on a driving tour across northern Nevada to West Wendover and on to Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. They will drive to Los Angeles Sept. 25 for their return flight to China. Three journalists from China television’s Travel Channel are on the tour and will produce a one-hour TV program about Nevada that will be seen by more than 300 million Chinese viewers.

Driving tours are important to Nevada tourism because they enable visitors to see much more of the state than would be possible only by flying from city to city.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism was the first U.S. tourism entity to be issued a license by the Chinese government to advertise to outbound travelers and operates an office in Beijing. The commission has eight friendship agreements in China to encourage more tourism business. Another leisure tour from China is scheduled to visit Nevada Sept. 30 – Oct. 8.