Ribaudo column: Smoke from regional wildfires impacts Lake Tahoe tourism (opinion)
As if concern over whether we will have snow each year to support the winter economy wasn’t enough, we now have to contend with the impact of fire and smoke on the South Shore economy. Luckily for the South Shore, we have not had a major fire for the past 11 years. But that doesn’t mean we are not impacted by fires elsewhere.
This past summer California has, at last count, brought over 18 fires, and the easterly flow of that smoke has impacted tourism and the activities people can participate in while here. So far, I estimate that 20 percent of our summer season will be impacted by smoke from fires happening elsewhere in California.
This is not the first summer we have had this experience, but it is becoming a more common occurrence and the impact on our economy is real and will continue to be so.
In a recent study, Visit California (the tourism promotion agency for California tourism) found 11 percent of those surveyed changed their travel plans based on fire and its impact. Let’s face it, no one enjoys a hike in the wilderness or a bike ride in some conditions that are unhealthy.
The reality is the forecast calls for more of the same and then some. The state of California is projecting more of the larger, more intense fires like the ones experienced in Mendocino County, Redding and Yosemite.
The impact for tourism statewide needs to be assessed, and we will have to do so here in South Shore. Will summer fires reduce visitation? Shift visitation to less fire-prone months? Will visitors’ activities once here in South Shore change?
It all remains to be seen but we can be confident things will change, and our ability to meet those changes will be important.
As summer turns to fall and the impending political season with November elections, it looks like we have a full contingent running for the City Council. A veritable buffet for voters, we have some incumbents, some looking to return and some new faces.
It’s important that local voting residents focus closely on this race and the county supervisor race and identify those who are prepared to deal with the changes to South Shore that are coming. It’s not enough to look backward and remember how things used to be or even how things are today.
To me, one of the most important ingredients of a successful local politician is their openness to change. We now live in a global economy with instant communications and change is happening at a rapid rate. Which politicians will be the ones who look ahead to meet the challenges, and which politicians will be the ones who argue for the status quo.
Don’t let their rhetoric fool you — ask tough questions. Demand specific answers. For what it’s worth I’ll write more of my thoughts in the upcoming months.
The big picture
I have many friends who are Trump fans, and I even support some of his policies, but he is classless. This whole issue with flying the flag at half-staff for John McCain, a sitting senator, was disgraceful. At the end of the day, I’ll respect the office of the president, but I and the majority of Americans outside his core base do not respect him as a person. His pettiness and brittle ego can’t just let the little things go. Trump just can’t be the bigger person — it’s not in his DNA. As we have seen, he is not a person well equipped for the job he holds.
The state line and Y area have gotten a lot of attention lately but don’t miss what’s going on in town around Sierra Boulevard. There are of good restaurants (Italian, burgers, pizza, Mexican, Sushi and more) and a second brewery has been added in the area. Lots of good stuff happening in the Mid-town area.
It’s a Wrap
This one is dedicated to Sen. John McCain. Thank you for your service.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker, and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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It is a tremendous relief that COVID-19 cases are waning, more folks are returning to work, and California will soon be opening up and relaxing the pandemic restrictions.