BC Tourism takes a hit as wildfires continue to burn

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – We’re only a couple of days away from the Labour Day weekend — and we’re starting to learn how rough this wildfire season has been for the tourism industry in this province.

The Cariboo has been one of the areas hit particularly hard, with fires there still burning.

People read the headlines about the wildfires, without looking into the specifics, in the view of Maya Lange with Destination BC.

She says those people often stay away, and that’s affecting the bottom line in a big way for those who rely on income from tourists.

“Because of perceptions or misinformation, we’re seeing a tremendous amount of cancellations due to perceived impact to their trips,” says Lange.

Lange says the Barkerville attraction near Quesnel saw attendance drop 54 percent between July 7th and August 21st, with a 50 percent drop in revenue.

“In the Kootenay Rockies, 32 percent of businesses are reporting loss of potential revenue due to visitor perceptions,” says Lange. “In the Thompson Okanagan, 47 percent of business are reporting some sort of business interruption, whether that’s because of road access issues, whether that’s because of cancellations due to misinformation, and so on.”

There are currently 145 active fires across BC including 17 new starts.

The BC Wildfire Service is reporting nearly $420 million has been spent fighting nearly 1,200 fires since April 1st.

Meanwhile, firefighters in the Interior are also narrowing their focus just east of Kelowna. The Philpott Road wildfire is still only 20 per cent contained and is burning in heavy timber and steep terrain.

It’s currently estimated to be 465 hectares in size, and crews are facing unstable weather patterns in the region.

A new evacuation order for people living near Clinton has also been issued because of a massive fire in that area, but the province hasn’t said how many people are affected.

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