Tourist survey confirms suspicions |

Tourist survey confirms suspicions

Sally J. Taylor

Tourists to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe who come from longer distances stay longer but come less frequently.

According to a year of quarterly surveys completed in September, out-of-state visitors stay the longest at 4.9 nights and visit the least with only 4.3 trips in a five-year period. Conversely, Sacramento/Stockton residents spend the fewest nights at 2.3, but take the most trips to Tahoe, 8.3 trips in five years.

Carl Ribaudo, president of Strategic Marketing Group, presented the results of the third-quarter survey on Friday to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board of Directors. The July-through-September survey is the fourth in an ongoing series commissioned by the LTVA.

“Everything we know is confirmed,” said Ribaudo in summary of the first completed year of visitor surveys. “Our task is how to increase the frequency (of visits). It’s the task of Solomon.”

Considering the third quarter survey results only, gaming participation was “the lowest seen in any quarter,” he said.

Though still the most frequent single activity, only 62 percent of all visitors surveyed spent some time playing at the casinos in the third quarter compared to 73 to 82 percent in previous quarters.

“It was a little lower than I’d anticipated,” Ribaudo said. “People were here, but not as high a percent were gambling.”

Highlights from the third quarter survey included:

— Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed indicated they were from California, the highest level measured during the year. Most were from the Bay Area, at 55 percent, followed by Sacramento/Stockton at 13 percent and Southern California at 9 percent.

— Fifty-four percent arrived by private vehicle and 33 percent arrived primarily by air.

— Sixty-eight percent were overnight visitors from California, 20 percent were overnight visitors from outside California or Nevada and 12 percent came for the day only.

— Thirty percent indicated the South Shore had improved as a place to spend a vacation, 27 percent said it had stayed the same, 12 percent felt it had declined and 32 percent did not know.

In a summary of the past four quarters from October 1996 through September 1997, characteristics of visitors from each season as well as characteristics of visitors living in different areas were compared.

Highlights included:

— Spring and fall visitors tend to be about 39 years old while winter and summer visitors tend to be younger – about 33 and 35 years old, respectively.

— The average visitor from the Sacramento/Stockton area is older at 40 years of age, than those from the San Francisco Bay Area at 34, Southern California at 35 and out of state at 36.

— Winter and spring visitors have higher household incomes – averaging just above $66,000 and $62,000 – when compared to summer and fall season visitors whose household income was just under $56,000.

— Visitors from all three areas of California tend to have household incomes of just under $58,000 while out-of-state visitors earn about $61,000.

— Winter had the largest percent of first-time visitors at 39 percent. Only one-fourth of spring and fall visitors are first-time visitors. Thirty-six percent of summer visitors were here for the first time.

— Spring visitors, at 17 percent, are the least likely to bring children as opposed to 36 percent of summer visitors, the largest of any quarter.

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