CARSON CITY - Nevada's largest gathering of rural tourism professionals returns to Ely in April, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki announced.

Issues, trends and insights affecting rural tourism will fill the two-day Rural Roundup conference, kicking off with keynote speaker Mark Hoffman, two-time chairman of the National Tourism Association.

The conference, April 30-May 2, is sponsored by the Nevada Commission on Tourism, part of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. Now in its 24th year, Rural Roundup changes location annually to highlight a different rural community. This year, the conference will showcase Great Basin National Park, home of the tallest mountain in the Great Basin - 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak - and the stunning Lehman Caves.

Sessions on new media, revamping a marketing plan and the international traveler also are scheduled, as well as workshops on how to effectively pitch stories to media and how to attract sponsors for special events. Agritourism and tribal tourism also will be addressed, and research expert David Bratton of Destination Analysts will discuss how to maximize the potential of tourism websites.

"Some of Nevada's most fascinating and compelling destinations are found in the rural areas," Claudia Vecchio, director of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said. "We need to get that message out through websites, new media and marketing plans that really target our diverse visitor base. Rural Roundup gives our tourism leaders the tools to reach those markets."

For attendees to see successful rural tourism experiences firsthand, pre-conference optional tours are available to the Renaissance Village, the historic murals in Ely, and the Nevada Northern Railway. A tour of Great Basin National Park and the McGill Drugstore Museum, a small-town drugstore that takes visitors back to the mid 20th-century, will be offered post-conference.

For registration, news and updates visit Registration is $65 through April 13, and $80 after.