March 24, 2011

The stormcloud's silver lining on Merced's economy

There's a silver lining to the dark clouds hanging over Merced and Mariposa. It's kept plenty of Yosemite-bound tourists in town, according to Karen Baker, manager of the California Welcome Center on 16th Street.

As snow and bad weather closed all highways leading into the National Park, tourists and park employees had to spend time elsewhere, meaning local hotels, restaurants and attractions could be seeing an economic bump from all this bluster. One man from Japan has been "stuck" in Merced for three days, waiting for Yosemite to reopen. (The park reopened on a limited basis Thursday and is expected to fully open on Friday.)

Of course, it's hard to measure just how big an impact stranded tourists are having -- local hotels are filled to capacity because of this weekend's 32nd annual Kiki Raina Tahiti Fete.

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