North Tahoe summer bookings up 21 percent heading into July 4 weekend | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe summer bookings up 21 percent heading into July 4 weekend

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — An uptick in seasonal bookings in Tahoe-Truckee markets has tourism executives optimistic that summer business will also see an increase.

As of May 31, summer occupancy figures have increased 21.2 percent compared to summer figures for the same time last year, according to data from the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

Revenue booked for arrival during the summer season is also up 22.8 percent, according to the NLTRA.

"We've seen increases year over year as a result of an improving economy," said Sandy Evans Hall, NLTRA executive director. "People have more discretionary income and can make plans to do more vacations now."

NLTRA partners with DestiMetrics, a Denver-based resort travel research organization that tracks reservation and occupancy metrics for participating resorts and compiles statistics from about 260 property management companies in 17 mountain communities in Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada and Oregon.

Its most recent report, published June 16, includes the entire Tahoe region as part of an aggregated 8.5 percent increase in the western mountain resort demographic, compared to last summer.

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Like the overall uptick, increases in the North Tahoe area are based on existing bookings from May through October, Hall said.

Overall, mountain resorts in the west report revenue booked for the summer season has already reached 70 percent of last summer's total, representing a 14 percent increase, according to the report.

The statistics reflect resorts diversifying their business model to make up for typical seasonal travel, said DestiMetrics director Ralf Garrison.

"When seasons decline, resorts will try to double down and diversify business in winter and summer as a destination for both," he said.

With the entire summer showing strong growth, Garrison said mountain resorts are in good shape.

"Summer is a growth opportunity season for mountain destinations, and in particular, during the last five years as the economy strengthened and the value of year-round diversification has become clear, mountain resorts have been capitalizing on that untapped potential by expanding their recreational offerings, base area amenities, calendar of special events and marketing to a wide audience of outdoor enthusiasts," Garrison explained.

Booking rates do play an important role, Garrison added, but it is less of an interest to retail businesses.

Garrison looks at reservation forms as a true indicator of the growth in seasonal bookings across his reporting area.

"A reservation form is the most valid data as a forward-looking metric," he said. "If you look at a form, they tell you who (is booking), where they are coming from, how long they are staying, how much they paid."

Across the broader economy, the travel and leisure market is growing faster, Garrison said, based on the gross domestic product versus data compiled by the Travel Industries of America.

Meanwhile, AAA on Monday released its annual Independence Day survey, noting an expected significant increase in holiday travelers.

The survey reports "the highest number of travelers since 2010, as more than 4.8 million Californians are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home for the first summer vacation of the year."

According to the travel survey, this represents a 0.5 percent increase from 2014.