While the national news seems to indicate that the United States economy is beginning to level out, the public’s uncertainty in Bernanke’s prediction has led to less travel and less spending. This means that for a destination vacation spot like South Lake Tahoe, the economy can get hit harder than other areas. Other vacation spots, like Napa, have also felt the hit.
Businesses in the area aren’t even certain as to whether things are up, down or indifferent. In an interview to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Carol Chaplin, Executive Director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority said that lodging properties were not reporting consistently: “Generally speaking, the overall comment is that we are tracking down, but it could have been worse.” While many still took their normal holidays in visiting Lake Tahoe, like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, other non-holiday weekend getaways were down. And if people did take a vacation over the summer, they looked for ways to cut the costs. While many believe that if they haven’t lost their job already, they’re still may, and are booking their vacations at short notice to prevent costly commitments.
With decreased tourism, many will have to wait for seasonal jobs and tourism or service related jobs to come back. The unemployment rate for the county has decreased only slightly, from 11.9% in June to 11.8% in August according to California Employment Development Department.This is still an increase from the earlier months of the year, and is almost double the unemployment rate over 2008.
More than anything, this will be a wait and see process. Many hopes are attached to a good ski season this winter, and if the weather gives us what we want, the increased tourism has a chance. While the American Century Championship and Harveys Outdoor Concert Series did their part in boosting the local economy over the summer, we will need to wait to see what Street Vibrations’ and others’ contributions has done for the fall.
The upshot of this is that locals can get in on the good deals to be had. More and more restaurants are offering coupons in the newspapers and local bulletins; hotels are dropping mid-week rates and are creating enticing packages; and, locals are advertising their extra rooms for rent on Craigslist.
Local businesses should recuperate losses by marketing to “regional locals” from Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco and Las Vegas. While they may not be able to splurge on flights or hotels, they may think of driving to see their dear old Aunt Ida with the cabin at the lake. Lake residents should cash in on extended pre-season rates for ski passes, the regularly advertised coupons and possibly even purchasing their new home at the lake with all of the great deals out there.
Even though it seems that we’re not quite out of the woods yet, the good news is that the new, reasonable prices are finally in line with our pocketbooks.