CARSON CITY, NV--A trio of firms led by Burson-Marsteller has won a keenly-contested $3m brief to boost Nevada’s appeal as a tourism and cultural destination to the rest of the country.

Burson-Marsteller is partnering with Nevada’s Red Rock Strategies and sister WPP ad agency Young & Rubicam to handle the business, after prevailing over three other contenders in the final round of the pitch: Aristotle, Edelman and Fahlgren Mortine.

19 agencies initially submitted proposals to the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, for an assignment that combines paid and earned media outreach.

The appointments were confirmned by Bethany Drysdale, director of PR at Nevada's Commission on Tourism (NCOT). Drysdale noted the trio would oversee "PR, advertising and digital strategies", although the contract is still subject to approval by the Nevada Board of Examiners.

"We are thrilled to work with each of those agencies," Drysdale told the Holmes Report via email.

The two-year contract is a newly-created one that has not previously entailed agency support. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority currently works with R&R Partners.

Red Rock president Ryan Erwin said that the firms would work to showcase Nevada’s attractions beyond Las Vegas, which accounts for around three-quarters of the state’s visitors

“The goal is to bring as many tourists to Nevada as possible, both to traditional and non-traditional places,” said Erwin. “We want to educate potential visitors about those opportunities, and in the process stimulate an economy that has really been challenged over the past few years.”

Tourism is Nevada’s biggest industry and its largest employer, but suffered during the 2009 recession. Visitor spending has since recovered, with overall tourist numbers up 2.5 percent in 2011 to 51.4m. That figure remains some distance below the 58.8m visitors that the state attracted in 2007, according to NCOT statistics.

The state recently launched a new campaign called 'Discover Your Nevada', which encourages residents to explore their state.

Within Nevada, the process has attracted criticism for eliminating agencies from within the state. Eight Nevada-based firms entered the tender.