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Some warn of slow summer

Merry Thomas, Sun News Service

Although this summer’s tourist season has barely begun, the consensus is this year won’t keep pace with the last two years, according to Bill Hoffman, president of the Incline Village-Crystal Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Occupancy has been soft and inconsistent since March,” he said. “It’s way down from last year. But we just don’t know.”

Hoffman said the concern among those in the leisure industry – vacation rentals and hotels – is business is slow because of the economy and thus, they won’t be able to affect it.

No amount of advertising, public relations or special deals will lure folks who cannot afford to pay for the gasoline or perhaps need to spend the money on utility bills.

“We don’t know what this means for business,” Hoffman said.

“It could mean people will be taking more short trips, or it could mean they won’t be taking any trips,” he added.

At the end of April, Hoffman said, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort had an upturn because of the influx of groups staying there, but other than that, business definitely has slowed down.

The Reno bureau has had a 3 percent increase, but they have been undervalued for a long time, according to Hoffman. Their recent rate increase accounts for the gain, he added. Reno area hotels plan on a long-term gradual increase of rates.

“I’d be very surprised if Tahoe room occupancy goes up from last year,” Hoffman said.

“The travel industry always has its ups and downs,” he said. Both business and leisure travel are affected during a slower economy. Businesses having trouble making ends meet aren’t going to send people on conferences in the numbers they might have if they were flush, he explained.

“Bookings have been okay,” he said, “and property managers are cautiously optimistic.” Those in the industry are calling it a “flat revenue” season thus far.

“We’re hoping things remain flat, as good as last year,” Hoffman said.


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