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Tahoe tourism officials come together at summit

Sara Thompson
Sun News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” Tourists spent $1.2 billion on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe in 2006, and $145 million went to state and local taxes.

These were a few facts LTVA Executive Director Carol Chaplin presented at the Your Town Forum: Tahoe Tourism on Thursday.

The Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority hosted the event at Lake Tahoe Community College.

The results were from an economic impact analysis of tourism to the South Shore. In 2006, about 2.7 million people visited the area, and tourists spent $1.2 billion, with $145 million going to state and local taxes, according to the analysis by Carla Santos of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Brad Humphreys of the University of Alberta.

Day visitors spent an average of $84.01 each, and visitors who stayed one night or more spent an average of $498.73, Chaplin said. The average stay was 4.6 nights.

Guest speakers at the forum included JoLyn Laney from the Nevada Commission on Tourism, Pettit Gilwee from California Travel and Tourism Commission, Jody Franklin from the El Dorado County Visitors Authority, and Chaplin.

“We need to depend on our partners a bit more, hold hands, and get through this thing,” Chaplin said.

The chamber hosts forums three times a year addressing vital issues in the community, said chamber President Betty ‘B’ Gorman.

“We all need to work together and expand our knowledge and support for one another’s business,” Gorman said.

Guest speakers at the forum showed the audience how their organizations functioned and what they did for the South Shore.

“There’s a lot going on besides what’s in our little pond here,” Chaplin said.

Gilwee explained that the California Travel and Tourism Commission is funded through fees assessed to travel-related businesses. Its budget is $50 million; 79 percent comes from rental car companies and 13 percent from lodging.

Because the CTTC has a much larger budget than small visitors authorities, like the LTVA, its mission is to market the state nationally and internationally.

“We’re out there where you can’t be,” Gilwee said.

In 2008, approximately $97.6 billion was generated from tourism statewide, Gilwee said. Of that, 33 percent was from out-of-state visitors, and 17 percent was from international visitors.

“For every dollar we spent, we got $185 back,” Gilwee said.

By law the CTTC has to research the effectiveness of its marketing, so every year a study is released, which can be seen on the CTTC’s Web site.

The Web sites of the CTTC, EDCVA and NCOT feature South Shore events and businesses. All the presenters told attendees to go to the Web sites and make sure their information is on there.

The CTTC also has “The land of food and wine” campaign, which is meant to entice foodie travelers. Anyone can submit content for the campaign, or for other areas of the Web site, Gilwee said.

Franklin said El Dorado County is working to promote multi-day stays in the county because of its diverse geography. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting, explore Gold Rush history, go whitewater rafting, and come up to Lake Tahoe. More submissions are needed so visitors have more specific activities to choose from, she added.

Laney said Nevada is the first state to take advantage of mobile Web sites. NCOT launched NV.mobi this past year, along with other sites that visitors can check for ski and road conditions.

“It’s important to have services for visitors while they’re here,” Laney said.

More travelers have a “wait-and-see” attitude right now, Laney said. To entice travelers, NCOT is marketing time-sensitive travel deals, such as travel packages that can only be used within a certain time frame.


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