The South Shore has fallen behind in competing for tourist dollars and needs a dramatic reinvention if the area's economy will see long-term improvement, according to a recently released economic analysis.
Out of nine comparable tourist destinations examined in the analysis completed for the South Shore Vision Plan, the area ranked last in occupancy rate, average daily rate and revenue per available room.
The analysis was completed by Strategic Marketing Group as part of the Vision Plan, which was developed last year by a group of 40 stakeholders and looks at future of both sides of the state line.
The decline in South Shore's competitiveness, and related drop in economic activity, is attributed to the rise of tribal gaming in the region, communities outside the Lake Tahoe Basin emphasizing tourist improvements and the erosion of the South Shore's infrastructure and product offering.
"Gaming revenues have dropped from $341 (million) in 2001 to $198 (million) in 2011, a reduction of 42%," according to the analysis. "Additionally employment within South Shore casinos has declined from 7,074 to 3,423, a reduction of 52%."
"At the same time the supply of rooms has remained almost constant. There has not been a matching demand to fill the rooms. As such the South Shore has a significant oversupply of rooms relative to the level of demand."
The excessive supply of rooms has cut prices, slimmed operating margins and hindered reinvestment, according to the analysis.
The study - funded by South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County, Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and South Tahoe Alliance of Resorts - finds implementation of the South Shore Vision Plan is part of the solution to regaining the area's competitiveness and economic stability.
The Vision Plan includes several conceptual developments in the area between Kahle Drive and Ski Run Boulevard, including the creation of a loop road around the casinos, the reduction of U.S. Highway 50 from five lanes to three through the corridor, a permanent amphitheater and streetscaping along the highway.
"All of the proposed changes are designed to dramatically transform the South Shore to a destination resort that attracts a longer-stay greater economic impact visitor," according to the study. "This revitalization of South Shore will shift the focus of the destination to that of a more recreation, entertainment and pedestrian streetscape orientation all designed to create a unique and differentiated experience for visitors and local residents."
Following release of the economic analysis, the focus of the Vision Plan shifts to the U.S. Highway 50 Community Revitalization Project, said Mike Bradford, CEO of Lakeside Inn and Casino, who participated in the development of the Vision Plan. The proposed revitalization project includes development of the loop road.
Critics have contended the road will displace people and businesses, as well as benefit Nevada businesses at the expense of those in California.
The revitalization project's lead agency, the Tahoe Transportation District, is currently soliciting public input on possible alternatives for the proposal. The next workshop on the project is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Nov. 7 at Embassy Suites at 4130 Lake Tahoe Blvd.