Visitors to North Tahoe can play proactive role in destination management (Opinion) |

Visitors to North Tahoe can play proactive role in destination management (Opinion)

Greg Long / Guest column
Greg Long

Visitors always will be an important element of our lives at Lake Tahoe as travelers from around the globe arrive to share the abundant glories that residents enjoy every day.

But climate change and the growing realization of the importance of protecting the treasures of Lake Tahoe mandate a new relationship with our visitors, one that’s based on responsible management of our visitor resources.

One indication of the new era is the comprehensive rebranding initiative that recently took a penetrating look at our destination and our hopes for the future. That work led to the adoption of “Travel North Tahoe Nevada” as the new name for the organization previously known as the “Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau.”

But this isn’t simply a marketing effort. It’s a visible acknowledgement of the profound responsibilities felt by the entire community — fulltime and seasonal residents, business owners and those whose livelihood depends on a vibrant and resilient visitor economy. Perhaps most important, the new brand recognizes the importance of visitors themselves to the careful stewardship of the assets of Lake Tahoe.

We now ask visitors to recognize that they are not simply passive bystanders who are consuming the beauty and recreational opportunities of the North Tahoe Nevada region. We ask them to play a proactive role in wise management of our destination.

Very simply, we ask visitors to think, act and explore as if they were local residents. Specifically, the Travel Tahoe North Nevada Traveler Responsibility Pledge asks visitors to commit themselves to:

— Become a steward of Lake Tahoe. We ask that they leave conditions better than they found them, support the small businesses that keep the region strong and use public transportation.

— Respect the environment. We ask them to stay mindful of the environmental impact of all of their actions.

— Stay educated. We urge them to keep aware of weather conditions and safety protocols and learn travel tips before they arrive.

— Keep wildlife wild. We encourage them to observe wildlife from a respectful distance and avoid the temptation to feed wild animals.

— Stay fire safe. We ask that they stay vigilant, pay attention to fire restrictions and take great care when cooking outdoors.

— Demonstrate mindful travel. We encourage them to act with kindness and neighborliness while also honoring health and safety protocols.   

Travel Tahoe North Nevada and its partners are committed to ensuring that visitors have the tools they need to do the right thing.

Public transit, of course, is a major element in sustainable destination management. Travel Tahoe North Nevada, working with private and public partners in Nevada and California, helped bring to reality the free ride-sharing service known as TART Connect.  Visitors and residents alike left their cars behind — saving untold amounts of air pollution — and instead relied on TART Connect as well as the TART public transit system.

To cite but one other example, Travel Tahoe North Nevada led in the effort to replace the traditional Independence Day fireworks show over Lake Tahoe — a source of noise, trash and air pollution — with this year’s “SkyShow” created by a fleet of drones. The show, which drew raves from residents and visitors, showed the possibilities for events that keep environmental wellbeing in the forefront.

We continue to work with partners such as The League to Save Lake Tahoe, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and The Tahoe Fund/Take Care Tahoe — not to mention hundreds of public and private-sector leaders — to enhance the sustainable management of our destination.

The time has passed in which destination-management organizations were content to mail out brochures, host groups of visiting journalists and place ads in glossy travel magazines. Sustainable management of the visitor economy of North Lake Tahoe demands vision,  willingness to learn and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Most of all, it demands a commitment to working together to implement the very best solutions.

Travel Tahoe North Nevada is making that commitment. We ask the active support of the entire community — and the support of every visitor — in fulfilling this important responsibility to ourselves and our future.

Greg Long is the chief operating officer of Travel North Tahoe Nevada. A multi-decade resident of North Lake Tahoe, Long has over 25 years of Lake Tahoe tourism experience.

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