Shining a light on our economic diversity, or lack thereof
The first thing to understand is that when it comes to South Shore’s economic diversity … THERE IS NONE.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with some people about how their business was doing. They indicated they were having a good year and things were looking up. They own a hair salon. They asked me how the hotel business was going and I told them that some months were up and some down and it is getting harder and harder to plan and budget for the future in our town. They sympathized, and said they were glad they catered mainly to locals.
That’s when I realized they weren’t fooling around, they actually didn’t get it. They didn’t see a correlation between tourism and their business since they don’t count on tourists as clients.
I have lived here for 13 years and am not aware of any business that brings significant dollars in our town other than tourism. South Shore doesn’t produce gadgets and send them all around the world. We don’t grow anything and send it to market. We don’t even let cattle graze here anymore.
What we do is bring in tourism dollars and then we simply move that money around from business to business. The T-shirt store, Jet Ski rental or motel pays its employee to help with the tourists. The employee then goes to the dentist, the grocery store, the hairdresser, Meeks or wherever and spends the money they made around town. The employees of the secondary business do the same.
If tourism is down, the motel owner, boat renter, restaurateur, etc. begin to cut back on employee hours and benefits (for the few that actually get them).
That employee in turn spends less at the store on food, less on fun on their days off, less at Nel’s, and begins to let their hair grow to a longer style so they don’t have to go to the salon as often. That means the secondary businesses make less and has to cut its staff the same way, and the cycle continues to affect every business in town. It’s a trickle-down thing.
Is tourism important to our economy? IT IS OUR ECONOMY. And until we do find other ways to bring in new revenue to our town, we should all do everything possible to support it, nurture it and try to increase it.
If you think the traffic is bad because of it, go to Sacramento for a quick visit.
– Patrick Ronan is a 13-year South Tahoe resident and owns the Lakeshore Lodge and Spa.