‘Cautioned optimism:’ Historic month of snow, COVID surge impact area’s lodging industry
A historic month of weather brought with it several feet of snow, and also throngs of visitors to the Truckee-Tahoe area.
Despite concerns regarding the recent wave of the Omicron variant, officials in the area’s lodging sector remain optimistic as the region begins a new year.
“It’s cautioned optimism,” said Andy Chapman, President/CEO, Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau. “We’re at the mercy of the state — the directives, and guidance that they will bring down to the county level.”
Despite the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, Chapman said he believes the area’s hotels and lodges are better prepared than the past two winters, and that having vaccines available and a solid snowpack should equate to occupancy rates staying steady through the winter months.
According to North Tahoe’s most recent lodging summary, which looked at data from November, the region saw a 13.6% increase in occupancy compared to November 2020. The average daily rate for rooms, however, decreased from $338 in November 2020 to $298 in November 2021.
Following last month’s historic snowfall, Chapman said he expects to see a jump in occupancy rates when data for December becomes available.
“I think we’re really going to see some increases in the December 30 report,” he said. “I believe when we see that December report, we’re really going to start to see an increase in reservations.”
In Truckee, which doesn’t have a formal forecasting process like the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, expectations are for a solid winter season for the lodging industry.
“All indicators are that Truckee will see high visitation for winter 21-22 given a strong, early winter start and record-breaking season pass sales,” said Visit Truckee-Tahoe CEO Colleen Dalton. “We are also expecting a continued regional drive versus flight market, and longer lengths of stay due to work location flexibility and an avoidance of peak period I-80 driving.”
San Francisco-based travel and tourism research firm, Destination Analysis, found that 46% of American travelers said they’d be interested or extremely interested in traveling while being able to work remotely — something that Dalton said has driven travel to the Truckee area.
“A trip to Truckee-Tahoe checks all of the boxes of COVID-19 driven travel demand for fun, nature, relaxation,” she said.
Going into the weekend, North Lake Tahoe’s lodging barometer report forecasts that 74% of available rooms in Tahoe City, Tahoe Vista, and Olympic Valley will be filled, compared to 56% of available rooms during the same time in 2020. The lodging sector was shut down in January 2021. There will be an anticipated 12,210 people visiting North Lake Tahoe with lodging reservations on Saturday.
Heading into 2022, both Dalton and Chapman said the area’s marketing strategy will continue to be geared toward visitor responsibility. Namely, visitors and residents are being urged to use the region’s public transportation services in order to help ease the gridlock often seen during busy weekends.
“We’re being direct with our communications and how to interact in this environment,” added Chapman. “This is a place where people live. It’s not a free-for-all when you’re here. You have a responsibility as a traveler to respect the place that you’re traveling to.”
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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