The biggest wildfire in California this year, the 76,000-acre Mosquito Fire, is 50 miles west of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Smoke from the Mosquito Fire has prompted cancellations of sporting events, classes at the University of Nevada, Reno campus, hotel bookings and outdoor tours, derailing the start of an autumn season on which many businesses count.
Tourism-driven businesses can be affected quickly when visitors curtail their activities or cancel reservations entirely. In July 2018, California businesses lost $20 million to cancellations amid a major outbreak of fires, the nonprofit group Visit California reported. Oregon saw a $51 million drop in tourism revenue from similar fires in 2017, according to nonprofit group Travel Oregon.
In nearby Tahoe City, Calif., the 212-room Granlibakken Tahoe hotel has lost almost all of its bookings since Sept. 6. Its current occupancy level is 15%, said owner Ron Parson. The hotel and a sister resort lost $1 million in revenue during the fires last year, he said.
The Mosquito smoke also forced cancellation of a youth soccer tournament called Come Up for Air. Expected to draw 4,000 players on the second and third weekends of this month in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the cancellation cost $2.5 million in lost revenues from hotels, food and beverages, estimated Brandon Garinger, tournament executive director. He said it was the second such cancellation in a row for the seven-year-old tournament.
“As soon as the smoke comes in, we lose a lot of customers,” said Kim Childers, a clerk at the Adrift Tahoe sports shop in Kings Beach, Calif. Rentals of kayaks and other watercraft are down by about half from where they are when the skies are more clear, she said. (Jim Carlton)