CARSON CITY — The Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) has awarded $985,146 in grant funding for projects throughout rural Nevada designed to increase travel to those areas, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki announced Wednesday at the commission's quarterly meeting. Among the unique proposals approved by the commission are a social media “selfie” scavenger hunt contest in the state’s central/southern region as well as a project to promote the ParaLong Drive World golf tournament for golfers with disabilities.

“Nevada has so many hidden treasures in lesser-known areas of our state,” Krolicki, NCOT chairman, said. “The tourism professionals in rural Nevada work very hard to find creative, new and interesting ways to bring visitors to these extraordinary areas.  The commission is very pleased to be a partner with these local and regional tourism agencies in finding ways to increase visitors and economic activity to rural Nevada.”

NCOT’s longstanding Rural Grants Program helps rural communities and also generates room tax revenue for the state. Grant recipients must provide a 50-50 match in funds or the equivalent in volunteer hours and use the money to maximize their marketing outreach which will bring more travelers to Nevada’s rural areas.

“We’re impressed with the creativity and resourcefulness displayed in the grant applications,” Claudia Vecchio, Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs director, said. “Many of the requests were for social media projects or for projects that will augment social media — these are very savvy decisions, as today’s travelers increasingly turn to social media to research and plan their vacations.”

NCOT, a division of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, receives three-eighths of 1 percent of room tax revenue as its operation budget. A portion of those funds are used to offer the Rural Grants Program, which helps nonprofit groups and government agencies in rural Nevada enhance visitation from overnight stays. Funding for the grants does not come from the state’s General Fund.

Grant awardees must provide a 50-50 match in funds or volunteer hours. NCOT reimburses the applicants after the projects are completed and labor and funding details have been provided.

A total of 148 grants were awarded in this current cycle of grants. A second cycle will be awarded in December.

Among the funded projects:

  • $6,700 was given to Nevada Silver Trails, a nonprofit group that promotes central/southern Nevada, to develop and promote a social media “selfie”/scavenger hunt contest that incorporates the group’s website. The contest, which plays on the trend of taking self-portraits on cell phones as well as the popularity of scavenger hunts, will have participants take selfies at various landmarks throughout Nevada Silver Trails in competition for prizes.
  • $10,000 was awarded to the Winnemucca Convention & Visitors Authority to create high-definition videos of the Ranch Hand Rodeo and points of interest in the area to be used in advertising and other presentations.
  • $5,000 to the city of Mesquite was approved for the promotion of the ParaLong Drive Worlds golf competition in Mesquite, a top event for golfers with disabilities. Mesquite has had success with similar events: After hosting a ParaLong Drive exhibition event, the city has booked several competitions for golfers with disabilities, including the North American One-Armed Golfer Association’s National Championship and the Scottish Disability Golf Partnership’s Phoenix Cup.
  • $12,000 was given to Nevada’s Indian Territory, a nonprofit group that promotes tribal tourism, to update brochures for the Stewart Indian School, a former Indian boarding school in Carson City. The brochure, which includes a map of a walking trail connected to an audio tour that utilizes personal cell phones, has been instrumental in promoting the history of the school.
  • $7,000 grant was awarded to Ventana Sierra Inc., a Reno nonprofit group, to promote the Great Carson City Lit Fest in summer 2015. Authors scheduled to appear at the event include Daniel Handler, also known as children’s book author Lemony Snicket; M.T. Anderson, children’s and young adult book author; and Stephen Chbosky, author of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”  
  • $8,000 was awarded to the nonprofit Great Basin Heritage Area Partnership to update, print and distribute new brochures. The Great Basin National Heritage Area, which includes Great Basin National Park near Ely, contains significant archeological, historical and cultural features emblematic of the Great Basin area.
  • $3,933 was approved to design and print the 20-page Lower Walker River Bird Guide and Checklist. The nonprofit Great Basin Bird Observatory, which supports birds and bird habitat throughout Nevada, is behind the birding guide, which will include such information as visitor amenities. 

The Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) is part of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. NCOT is responsible for promoting and marketing Nevada as a travel destination to domestic and international travelers. Operating within a performance-based budget structure, NCOT is funded solely by a percentage of lodging tax paid by overnight guests throughout the state. For more, visit www.TravelNevada.biz.