Lake Tahoe travelers seeing cancellations after region bans visitors

The annual Winter trek to California’s Lake Tahoe is experiencing the COVID-19 effect.

“There are restrictions on hotels now. They are not allowed to take reservations going forward,” said Carol Chaplin, the president & CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority.

He said current hotel and Airbnb occupants can complete their stays. But those who have reservations for the upcoming holidays are being sent cancellation notices.

A notice from Northstar Hospitality sent to a KTVU associate saiid the three-bedroom, two bath mountain condo booked for later this month had been canceled.

Airbnb officials say their policies allow for full refunds if cancelations are made five days in advance. Reservations booked prior to March 14 are subject to the company’s “Extenuating Circumstances” policy refunds. And hosts provide their own cancellation policies prior to booking.

“We hope that after the three week period, that we can get up and going and enjoy the rest of the winter with all of our great activities,” said Chaplin.

There are still activities to be done during the shutdown. For example, skiing day trips are still possible. Or, you can go to the Nevada side of Tahoe, where hotels and restaurants are operating at 25% capacity. Even with that, economists say the shutdown is devastating for the region.

“Tahoe is going to be losing a lot of income. Because the tourist income is something they depend on this time of year,” said Dr. Colleen Haight, a San Jose State University economist.

She said without leisure foot traffic, Tahoe could see a scarcity of people, and jobs.

“It could mean layoffs. Or temporary furloughs for staff. Because if you don’t have a full hotel, you certainly don’t need the same amount of staff,” said Haight.

Tahoe tourism officials stress people should call before coming, adding, there are probably tens of thousands of emails already headed to inboxes, saying, don’t come.