Strength in unity, says LTVA |

Strength in unity, says LTVA

Susan Wood

Tourism officials have suggested bringing non-lodging properties into marketing efforts designed to promote South Lake Tahoe – perhaps through a fee structure of sorts.

The all-in-the-boat-together notion exemplifies a way the entire business community may experience the give and take of tourism dollars, some leaders indicated at the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority annual forum last week.

This idea came out of a multi-tiered discussion that returned to funding on several occasions.

The LTVA hosted more than 35 heavy-hitters in the business and civic world to tackle such issues. They gathered at the relaxed setting of Echo Creek Ranch in Meyers for a major brainstorming session.

The idea of shared tourism equity in the business community was one of several ideas tossed about in the room.

“The time has long passed to find a mechanism to bring retailers and restaurants to focus on the economy,” said Carl Ribaudo of the Strategic Marketing Group.

Ribaudo, describing the scenario as everybody out of the car pushing, took issue with these business entities benefiting from tourists without paying for the campaigns that bring them to the South Shore.

“I think there’s an inequity and subsidy going on,” Ribaudo said. “We provide all the infrastructure and services for them to succeed. We’ve got to get these guys into the fold.”

To accomplish such a task, the collective group also discussed methods of strengthening relationships.

Trust is essential, Tahoe Douglas Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathleen Farrell told her peers.

After returning from breakout sessions set up to address the how-to of four pressing questions, a professional facilitator from the University of Nevada, Reno, urged the group to agree and agree to disagree.

The honesty was arresting at times.

With an economy that lives and dies by tourism, the group was engaged in a quest to push Lake Tahoe into the millennium with a clear directive of where the community wants to be in years to come – and how it intends to get there.

The questions facilitator Steve Lewis asked the group to address included:

-What’s the greatest benefit to having a regional planning concept?

-What may be the area of greatest opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of projects, programs and plans?

-What is the one specific relationship builder we need to enhance with our funding partners?

-What is the most significant issue challenging tourism at the South Shore?

South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Tom Davis proposed marketing the radio road report and chain installers to quell fearful motorists’ concerns.

From transportation and trust, the discussion flipped to advertising.

Many agreed the marketing plans need to be defined in one concise message.

That’s sometimes easier said than done as short- and long-term goals from players with varying objectives pull in opposite directions, the group admitted.

South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Duane Wallace said he is optimistic area marketing can make course direction changes without causing course reversals.

“The big challenge for us is being able to compete in the marketplace as a destination resort,” LTVA Chairwoman Deb Howard said, summarizing the forum’s common denominator Friday.

Howard emphasized the need for LTVA to increase its funding from its partners.

The LTVA and the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority plans to host a joint workshop to hash out their most pressing issues.

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