Truckee insulated from economic effects of attacks
As local businesses tally sales figures and study financial reports from the last year, it appears Truckee remained relatively unscathed by the economic blows Sept. 11 dealt too much of the rest of the country.
“Overall, I’d say our business wasn’t really affected at all,” said Toby Baird, public relations manager for Northstar-at-Tahoe. “We may have seen slightly higher numbers of day visitors and slightly lower numbers of business travelers and people flying in, but overall, we didn’t any dramatic changes.”
Some local businesses saw the opposite effect.
“Business really spiked this last year,” said Alex Lester, manager of Andy’s Diner on West River Street.
Karen Shindler, an employee at The Pharmacy on Commercial Row said things were quite profitable at their retail shop as well.
“It is hard for us to say because we’ve only been here for a little over a year, but we’ve done absolutely fabulous.”
All three believe Truckee was spared from the brunt of the devastation to the tourism industry largely because of its location and accessibility.
“I was in Park City, Utah, a big destination resort area, when Sept. 11 happened and I watched that area take a major hit,” Lester said. “It was a total ghost town this last year and it was really tough. The problem was that people didn’t want to fly and travel long distances after what happened. Truckee, on the hand, is right off the highway and relatively close to home for a lot of people.”
“I actually think that we saw an increase in business because we had a bunch of new tourists, who previously chose to vacation elsewhere, but chose to travel here because you can get here easily by car,” Lester added.
While retail, restaurants and resorts reported a relatively good year, hotels and resorts say it was more of a mixed bag in their industry.
“October and November were definitely much slower than we had expected, but I think that’s because people were staying home right after things happened,” said Laura Ryan of the Best Western Truckee Tahoe Inn. “Up until Sept. 11, we’d been incredibly busy.”
Business eventually picked up in January and February when the powder hounds emerged for the onslaught of snowstorms, however, occupancy rates dropped off again – more so than they had in almost six years – in April and May, according to Ryan.
“This summer we’ve seen things return to fairly normal levels,” she said. “I think if anything, the state of the economy has really affected us more than anything else. People are really watching their money right now.”
Even still, Ryan agrees that Truckee has suffered far less than other areas like San Francisco, where hotel owners are practically giving away rooms to attract visitors.
Baird, of Northstar-at-Tahoe, said he’s curious to see how things play out this season.
“With the economy in the shape that it’s in, who knows what will happen,” he said.
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The blaze grew to more than 50,000 acres as of Thursday morning but the Nevada Wildfire Information Map shows that figure could easily be at 60,000 acres.