Visitor’s Authority, lodging expects full turnout for holiday |

Visitor’s Authority, lodging expects full turnout for holiday

Annie Flanzraich

South Lake Tahoe hopes to bring an end to the summer 2010 season with a bang, literally.

“The fireworks really help bring people in through the whole weekend,” said Jerry Bindel, South Lake Tahoe Tourism Improvement District Chairman and South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association past president. “People will come up for the beautiful views but the special events really entice them for an extra trip or an extra night to stay.”

This year the South Shore will continue a tradition of ending the Labor Day holiday with a display of fireworks over the lake. The pyrotechnic show is expected to begin at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Lodging properties have reported strong numbers for most of the holiday weekend, said Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority.

Larger properties with advanced reservations have been doing very well, Bindel said. The MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa is booked for the entire weekend, said Mike Donovan, executive marketing manager.

“People have been reporting great summer business,” Bindel said. “This is a great finish to a strong summer for the lodging community.”

A new travel survey from AAA Northern California predicts an eleven percent increase in the number of Californians expected to travel over Labor Day weekend. The forecast predicts more than 4 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this upcoming three-day Labor Day weekend.

“Despite the continued mixed feelings regarding the economic recovery, a strong comeback in travel is anticipated for this holiday weekend,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “Compared to last year, fewer Californians are expected to pull back on discretionary spending, which will have a considerably positive impact on travel.”

Nationally, AAA projects just over 34 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Labor Day weekend, representing a 9.9 percent increase compared to 2009.

Law enforcement will also be out during the holiday weekend as part of a two-week crackdown on drunken driving.

“Our message is simple and unwavering. If we find you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions,” said Martin Hewlett, South Lake Tahoe’s interim police chief. “Even if you beat the odds and walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, motorists should be aware that the financial and social consequences of a DUI can be devastating.”

The measures are part of a national “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” crackdown led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Avoid DUI Task Force Campaign. The effort combines high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through publicity, Laney said.

“Driving impaired is simply not worth all the consequences. Just designate a sober driver,” said South Lake Tahoe police Sgt. Shannon Laney. “Don’t take the chance. Remember, if you are over the limit, you’re under arrest.”