Lorraine Hunt-Bono receives tourism Legacy Award
LAS VEGAS — Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison presented the Nevada Commission on Tourism Legacy Award to Lorraine Hunt-Bono, former lieutenant governor and former chair of the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT), at the Nevada Governor’s Global Tourism Summit Monday.
Hunt-Bono served as lieutenant governor of Nevada from 1999-2007, which also placed her as the chair for both the Nevada Commission on Tourism and the Nevada Commission on Economic Development. She was first appointed to the tourism commission in 1983 by then-Gov. Richard Bryan and continued to serve until October of this year when she stepped down.
“Lorraine has devoted decades of her life to tourism in order to further the economic vitality of this great state, which she so clearly loves,” Hutchison, chairman of NCOT, said. “She has a keen eye for opportunity and a concise perception of what sets our state apart from the others, and those are two qualities that help drive our tourism industry to great success.”
Hunt-Bono was the first Nevada state official to formally visit the People’s Republic of China and led NCOT into China, where Nevada became the first U.S. destination to be licensed by the Chinese government to market tourism there. Since then, Nevada has seen a 300 percent increase in Chinese visitation, and China ranks sixth in travel spending in the U.S.
“People told me we were ahead of our time because Chinese travelers were having a hard time even getting visas to visit the U.S.,” Hunt-Bono said. “But, when I looked at the potential, the country’s population and its burgeoning economy, I knew we needed to be there and we needed be the first.”
Hunt-Bono also holds the distinction of being the first woman to chair the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and has served on the board of the Clark County Commission and is currently on the boards of the Education Foundation of the Nevada Restaurant Association and the Nevada Commission on Foreign Relations, and is an ex-officio board member of the Nevada Ballet Theater. She is an honorary member of Women in Film and of the Las Vegas Rotary Club.
“It has been my honor to work with Lorraine and see firsthand how one person can have such a positive impact on their community and state,” Hutchison said. “She is well-deserving of the Legacy Award, but also of so much more. Nevada is indebted to her for her years of service and leadership.”
The award was presented at the Governor’s Global Tourism Summit held at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas, Nov. 16-17. The Global Tourism Summit is the evolution of the long-running Governor’s Conference on Tourism, produced by the Nevada Division of Tourism. The conference is an opportunity for those in the tourism industry to learn both from each other and from tourism and marketing experts. The focus on global tourism is due to Nevada’s vast opportunities in international travel.
“Nevada is a desired destination for international travelers, evidenced by the steady increase in visitors from around the world and by added air service from international destinations,” Claudia Vecchio, director of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said. “We can thank those like Lorraine who had the foresight decades ago to develop international marketing opportunities and work to make visitation to Nevada easier. Lorraine’s work in China especially helped lay the groundwork for the influx of Chinese travelers to our state.”
The Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada) is part of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. It promotes and markets Nevada as a tourism destination for domestic and international leisure and business travelers through its marketing and advertising programs and by coordinating partnerships between public and private entities. Travel Nevada also administers grant programs for local entities to market travel and tourism offerings and publishes Nevada Magazine.