Everyone should contribute to town’s prosperity
August 31, 2005
So now what? The Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District has been successfully handcuffed by a select few in our community. Whatever their intent, the result is what matters. Can it be fixed? Probably. Can the money collected eventually be dispersed? Probably. But when and to whom is still a major question mark. Why?
The original intent was to create a passthrough to the LTVA and chamber for funds the city took away from these two organizations. The thought was that since just about everyone in town benefits from tourism, then it would be great if everyone throws in a few dollars to help with the success of the only major industry that brings money into our town. For the first time, businesses other than lodging are being asked to contribute to their own success. Most don’t realize how much lodging spends bringing customers to our town. We polled eight properties and their marketing budgets total over $4 million per year. These are not tax dollars passed along, but money spent from our pockets. Those properties are all in South Lake Tahoe. Add in all the rest and you’d have well over $6 million spent each year bringing people up to South Shore. (I’m still trying to figure out why lodging is being made out to be the “bad guys.”) And that doesn’t include the casinos and Heavenly.
The BID was created so we could continue to market our town through the only two organizations that are set up to do that. The LTVA, which was to get the majority of the passthrough, is composed of the best marketing people our community has to offer. The people on the subcommittees and board have jobs that are dependent on the success of marketing and selling this destination.
If what was recently in the paper is true, then South Shore is not having a very good tourist season. Some businesses are doing very well, but we should be looking at the welfare of the whole town, not just a few businesses. If occupancies continue to drop, there will be more layoffs at motels, then restaurants and every other business. And with less and less marketing, we cannot expect the economy to come back on it’s own. By all accounts it appears that a few of the BID committee members are still not exactly supportive and have made this very clear in their recent lawsuit. These same few, with little or no marketing experience, are making decisions and taking actions that are risking the economic well being of our community.
The lodging industry is being put in a very tough position. The original intent of the BID has been changed by those who fought against it to begin with and with all their education and knowledge they don’t get that the very survival of this town is at stake. The only reason they have gotten involved at all is because they are actually being asked to contribute to the town’s success and that means they can’t just rely on lodging to feed them clients, whether they be tourists or employees of tourism businesses. This small group is putting our entire community at risk. Lodging cannot be expected to sit back and watch the decline continue. We need to get this money into the hands of our town’s best marketers and start to win back the customer base that has been eroding for the past several years.
Perhaps asking everyone to contribute to their own futures and getting their involvement was a mistake. Perhaps we should just put our future back into the hands of the “good old boys” who have always supported the community and to have them carry the entire burden as usual.
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– Pat Ronan is a longtime South Tahoe resident.
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