Where are the tourists? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Where are the tourists?

Sally J. Taylor

If 53 percent of Americans would like to visit Lake Tahoe, where are they?

“That’s a good question,” said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis. “I travel all the time and there’s nowhere prettier.”

In the 1997 report from The YP&B Yankelovich Partners, Lake Tahoe was listed third among destinations Americans would most like to visit. The Florida Keys and Orlando, Fla. ranked above Tahoe. Other western destinations trailed behind.

Americans seem to know about Lake Tahoe, but declining visitor statistics at the lake indicate few actually make the trip.

“There’s a perception that it’s hard to get here,” suggested Pat Ronan, general manager of Lakeland Village and a member of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association Board of Directors.

“Being aware (of Tahoe) and actually having the information in front of you to help you make a decision are two different things,” he said.

A shortage of advertising dollars also hurts, Ronan added. All the advertising dollars of all the businesses and organizations at Tahoe lumped together is small compared to what Disney World and Orlando, Fla. spend on advertising.

The report is good news and bad news, said Ron Spellecy, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

“These reports say we’re on the right track, but we need to get there and get there fast,” he said.

Spellecy hopes upcoming research will help answer the question of why people aren’t here.

Nationally, people hear more about Tahoe from Chevrolet commercials and the Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship than direct advertising, he said.

“We don’t have the budget Las Vegas has to make a household name for us.”

Another question being considered by upcoming research is where to advertise for the biggest return on the dollar.

“What would it cost us so we could become a household name?” Spellecy asked.

With the report still new, neither Davis, Ronan, nor Spellecy had studied it as yet.

But they hope to exploit the information it contains.

Davis, president of the Tahoe Keys Resort and a member of the LTVA board of directors, is looking forward to reviewing the report.

“If there is a message we need to incorporate into our advertising, we will do that,” he said.

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