Midweek holiday may keep crowds down
South Lake Tahoe tourism and business officials plan on getting a lot of bang for the buck for Fourth of July, with one unknown factor. Because the holiday falls in the middle of the week, the number of multiple-night bookings is uncertain.
They say a weekend holiday brings more tourism dollars because many workers find it easier to take off for three days.
“We don’t think we’re going to break any records because of the mid-week holiday,” Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Executive Director Terry LeBan said Friday. She echoed a claim made by South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Crabb.
Still, LeBan expects a strong showing this year with a crescendo of room bookings hitting by midweek, with a slight leveling off come Thursday, Friday and into the weekend.
The city-operated Campground by the Lake is sold out on the holiday.
“In a way, the fireworks show is too late (Wednesday night) to drive home,” LeBan said.
The Harrah’s Lake Tahoe-coordinated show, touted as the largest musically synchronized display west of the Mississippi River, starts at 9:45 p.m. and lasts for about 30 minutes.
But predicting whether camping or hotel visitors will stay overnight or through the rest of the week is a little like viewing a crystal ball.
But overall, lodging properties are reporting a stronger showing in bookings on the weekend of July 7 and 8 than last weekend.
Part of that second wave of visitors comes from the timing of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
LeBan plans on more than 25,000 people traveling through the golf-tournament gates next week, with an onslaught of media cameras bringing Lake Tahoe to millions of living rooms.
This kind of publicity is priceless to tourism officials.
To ensure a solid showing for the upcoming weekend, many California hotels and motels and vacation rental companies lowered their minimum room bookings for the holiday.
Most properties are charging holiday rates, opposed to weekday rates, LeBan confirmed.
The casinos – reporting a sell-out holiday with the help of invited guests – beefed up their entertainment schedules to bring visitors to the region through the week. Harrah’s Lake Tahoe added legendary blues singer Etta James next Saturday to its lineup, and Caesars Tahoe hosts Earth, Wind & Fire that night and Sunday.
Lowering gas prices in adjacent Northern California and Nevada regions may also help boost the number of visitors. The price of a gallon of unleaded, self-serve gasoline dropped in California to $1.94, down 8 cents from a month ago. Nevada’s run $1.72, the American Automobile Association reported Thursday.
Sacramento’s unleaded gas came down 12 cents to $1.89, while Lake Tahoe’s range from $1.73 to $1.97.
AAA estimated 4.5 million Californians will travel at least 50 miles or more during the holiday week from June 30 to July 8. Over 93 percent are expected to travel by car.
“I think people are chomping at the bit, and ready to come up and have some fun,” Lakeside Marina Manager Roger Gadsbury said. “If the weather stays strong, I think we’ll have a good one.”
A continuing warm weather trend contributes to the optimism.
The National Weather Service forecast a summer pattern through the holiday Wednesday, with high temperatures in Lake Tahoe hovering in the low to mid-80s. Sacramento’s high temperatures may top 100 by midweek.
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