Tahoe Truckee tourism growing, resort association seeks for more funding
BY THE NUMBERS
15% — Year-over-year increase in Transient Occupancy Tax collections between July and December.
$1.4 million — Additional dollars generated in TOT funding during same stretch in 2017.
138% — Growth in October-December TOT funding over 10 years.
183% — Growth in April-June TOT funding over 10 years.
— North Lake Tahoe Resort Association
UPDATE: These statistics have been updated to reflect growth in October-December, and April-June time periods is over the course of a 10-year period.
Tourism in North Lake Tahoe is growing steadily, particularly with increasing growth in the spring and fall “shoulder seasons,” says the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
Data collected from the resort association shows Transient Occupancy Tax collections between July and December in 2018 are up 15% from the same period in 2017, which equates to an additional $1.4 million.
A driving factor in that growth is emphasis on increasing tourism in shoulder seasons, periods around spring and fall when visitor traffic is typically lower than the draw of winter and summer recreation.
Tax collected between October and December is up 138% from 10 years ago, while revenue collected between April and June has increased by 183% in the same time period.
“We still see a huge influence of our visitors showing up on the weekends because of our geographical area,” said Adam Wilson, member of the resort association’s board of directors. “What we’ve been focusing on is how do we spread that out.”
Last fiscal year the resort association had a tourism budget of $3.8 million. A majority of the money, $2.9 million, went into marketing, $450,000 went to visitor information services and $350,000 conference and group sales.
“We work really hard to make sure we’re identifying the opportunities we have,” said Wilson. “The staff is really focused on sharing the beauty of this area.”
While tax revenue is growing, the resort association is looking for other funding sources to fund the 2015 North Lake Tahoe Tourism Master Plan.
Currently Placer County needs $12 million to fulfill goals laid out in the master plan, which includes transit services, visitors activities and facilities and marketing. A resort association survey showed 71% of voters supported additional funding for the plan. Among those voters, Wilson said, there was strong support for a raise in TOT or sales tax. However, he said the resort association is also supporting the establishment of a Tourism Business Improvement District.
“They are an increasingly common way to fund these priorities,” said Samir Tuma, vice chair of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. Tourism Business Improvement Districts are designed, governed and created by those who pay an assessment and the funds cannot be diverted to general government programs.
“One of the beauties of a TBID is it begins to share the burden across a number of different industries, not just lodging,” said Tuma. In the North Lake Tahoe community there are a number of businesses that cater to tourists including recreational companies, retail, and dining.
“Everybody benefits from tourists,” said Tuma. “Unlike TOT or sales tax this is an opportunity to spread that burden but also the benefits across all different organizations,” he said.
Plans to create a Tourism Business Improvement District are still in preliminary stages. Tuma said they expect to form the district by December.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.