Businesses size up summer economy
High gas prices and an unstable economy may deter out-of-towners from making the trek to the Tahoe Basin this summer, but area merchants and recreation operators hope the locals will compensate.While its too soon for precise numbers, Stefanie Olivieri president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association said gas prices always affect business. Were optimist but also realistic, Olivieri said. In reality, its probably going to be a more challenging year for sales.Olivieri said aside from high prices at the pump, she attributes the unstable economy and the Highway 267 bypass to impeding demand for Truckees commercial row. Accordingly, the merchants association will be moving in a different marketing direction by coaxing locals to shop rather than catering to the tourists, Olivieri said.Weve always encouraged locals to enjoy their downtown, but were doing some promotional things to bring more people in, she said.This summer local residents can look forward to bigger and better Truckee Tuesdays, possibly a farmers market and even outdoor local artist shows, Olivieri said. Another business standing to benefit from local clientele is the Lake Tahoe boating industry. Jim Davisson, general manager of the Lake Tahoe Park Association said applications to reserve a boat mooring off the Sunnyside shoreline are already on a wait list basis. Were right on schedule this year as usual, Davisson said. The economy hasnt deterred membership at all.However, Davisson said he anticipates a decline in the number of boaters traveling to Lake Tahoe for vacation getaways. I think well see less people pulling boats up via vehicles this year because they dont want to spend the money on gas to get up here, Davisson said.Similarly, the U.S. Forest Service in the Tahoe Basin is expecting to see more campers from the region and nearby cities as opposed to travelers from distant locations, said Don Lane, recreation supervisor for the Tahoe arm of the U.S. Forest Service.The price of gas may conversely create more local demand in Tahoe, particularly from Sacramento and Bay Area folks, Lane said.Lane said the well-publicized wildfires last summer will not keep Tahoe-bound visitors from returning to the basin this year.In spite of those disasters, the good news is the heart of Tahoe is still sound and the core beauty is still there, and tourists are not directly impacted by what happened here because of the fires, he said.