COVID-19 underscores need to diversify Tahoe tourist economy

RENO (Nev.) -- The COVID-19 Pandemic exposed Lake Tahoe's growing vulnerability as rising housing costs, declining year-round residences, and more workers commuting from faraway or seeking jobs elsewhere all contributed to an increase in tourism dependence.

COVID-19 underscores need to diversify Tahoe tourist economy

RENO (Nev.) -- The COVID-19 Pandemic exposed Lake Tahoe's growing vulnerability as rising housing costs, declining year-round residences, and more workers commuting from faraway or seeking jobs elsewhere all contributed to an increase in tourism dependence.

According to the Tahoe Prosperity Center, the results of the study it conducted with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration underline the need for better diversification and affordable housing in Tahoe as well as to increase the number of skilled workers.

The study concluded that "exorbitant home prices and the high cost to live, long-haul commuters and a lack of workers point to an economy not healing itself nor resilient to disruptions that impact visitor-based economics more deeply."

According to research by the nonprofit center, tourism now accounts for over 60% of Lake Tahoe’s $5 billion regional economy. This is up from 40% in 2010.

The report concludes that "relying too heavily on one industry for residents’ livelihoods and tax base schools, health care, and public service is risky." Economic downturns, worsening wildfires and changing weather patterns are all increasing the risk.

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