Tahoe goes to Britain | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe goes to Britain

The Lake Tahoe tourism industry stepped onto a big playing field with approval by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority of an international marketing program.

The board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved a contract of $59,500 per year for three years, with a one-year cancellation clause, with England-based Development Associates.

International marketing “is a glaring omission in the (LTVA) marketing plans of the last few years,” said Douglas County Commissioner and LTVA Director Don Miner in a previous interview. “We have to be on the international radar.”

The organization, founded by American Blaine Henry, will market Lake Tahoe tourism, especially skiing, in the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries of Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. Preliminary work would also be done in Germany.

The first two areas – the “low countries,” Henry said – have a large number of skiers with few skiing opportunities close to home.

“Three-quarters of a million ski packages a year are sold in the United Kingdom, almost all for overseas some place,” he said.

Henry has worked in international business development since 1985 and promoted Colorado tourism from 1987 to 1993 until its funding source, the state tourism board, was dissolved.

Using research in Colorado, he estimated that by starting the program immediately, 15,000 skiers from the United Kingdom could be expected next year. This year, an estimated 8,000 skiers came from that area, down from 12,000 last year.

Rather than just advertising products or tourism, Development Associates “builds commercial networks, identifies trade partners and helps establish communications,” Henry said.

“I do not create the package, I create the business relationships.”

With the contract approved, Henry will begin analysis work immediately. In a few weeks, the company will present Lake Tahoe’s tourism features at the International Tourismus Bourse in Berlin, one of the two major European tourism trade shows, Henry said. He also hopes to bring European tour operators to Tahoe this year in preparation of package development for the next ski season.

“Europeans aren’t really aware of Lake Tahoe. They might know the name but they couldn’t find it on a map,” he said. “Once we get a cross-section of the market to visit it can’t help but increase (tourism through word of mouth).”

With every marketing dollar assigned to other promotions, the international promotions will be paid for from an unrestricted fund.

Use of the fund was expected to receive more criticism following a controversial move in January to spend $73,700 to market the Lake Tahoe Airport.

Chuck Maas, from Lake Tahoe Accommodations, presented Henry to the board and was ecstatic with the relatively easy acceptance of the program.

“I was psyched up for refusal,” said Maas, a strong proponent of international marketing. “Something clicked … I guess it was the right people at the right time.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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