Plenty to do this weekend (but bundle up if you’ll be outdoors)
As the first of the three major summertime holidays, Memorial Day weekend might not be the best indicator for what’s to come for the season.
Although it’s a holiday weekend and traditionally has a strong pull with tourists, weather always is a variable. Record high temperatures were recorded last weekend, but this weekend will have a drastic contrast with cooler temperatures and possible rain.
Weather combined with rising gas prices leave tourism officials unsure of the weekend’s outcome for the South Shore and what the future summer season will bring.
Because of the unpredictable weather, the holiday weekend isn’t a great forecaster, said Jerry Bindel, South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association president.
“It’s tough to make it a barometer for summer,” Bindel said.
Pat Ronan, Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board president, said another reason it’s hard to predict how busy the weekend will be is because people’s booking patterns have changed and the window is smaller.
“Instead of planning trips two or three months in advance, they’re planning trips in two or three weeks,” Ronan said.
Lake Tahoe has a history of bad weather during the Memorial Day weekend. Last weekend was a perfect tease for summer, and now the cold is back, Ronan said.
Bindel said the weekend usually does well, unless a major snowstorm hits. For the weekend, most lodging places will be between 85 percent to 95 percent full, he said. The numbers are down from last year, which he attributed to the weather.
Meteorologist Tom Cylke said the forecast for the weekend has a large upper low-pressure system moving into Northern California and the Great Basin. High temperatures are predicted to not even reach the 60s, with a chance of showers Saturday.
People could be traveling less in general because of high gas prices. According to the American Automobile Association, the number of Californians estimated to drive to their weekend destination is 3.4 million – 0.1 percent less than last year’s travelers, which is the first overall decrease since 2002.
Bindel thinks the summer as a whole will do fairly well because July 4 is on a Friday, so many people might come up Thursday and stay longer. His property, Lakeland Village Resort, already is about 75 percent booked for the Opening Day Lake Tahoe weekend, which is June 20-22.
Because of the South Shore’s proximity to the Bay Area and the Carson Valley, businesses need to encourage travelers from those areas to come up for short trips, said Betty “B” Gorman, president of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Businesses need to be creative with incentives for people to return, Gorman said. They can suggest activities visitors haven’t participated in, such as kayaking, different hiking trails and other options.
Another way to provide incentives is to hold events during the slow times, said South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce President Danny Freemon.
The Tahoe Mountain Fair will be put on this weekend by the STCC for that reason, Freemon said.
Freemon said he’s worked in mountain towns before, and places such as Aspen and Breckenridge always have events happening. Lake Tahoe needs to do the same.
“We need more of them,” Freemon said.