West Coast Tourism Leaders Join Forces in Wildfire Recovery
Tourism leaders in California, Oregon and Washington are joining forces to assist in the recovery of regions affected by wildfires and encourage tourism to the West Coast, forming the West Coast Tourism Recovery Coalition.
Wildfires have generally been in rural areas and have not affected the majority of the most popular tourist spots, meaning that the visitor experience remains largely unaffected. However, perception is that the entire region is in flames, prompting some visitors to cancel trips.
Tourism officials want to create a united front in advising potential travelers that the region is safe and ready to welcome visitors.
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"Visitors spend a combined $166 billion in our states, and travelers will cancel trips if they don't have information to help make a safe choice," said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California.
A recent study by Visit California found that 11 percent of travelers said wildfires prompted them to cancel trips to California. That represents $20 million in lost revenue for the state’s tourism economy.
A Travel Oregon study from 2017 found $51 million in tourism revenue was lost last year alone.
These lost dollars can add up and take a toll on local businesses.
To put the fires into perspective, of three states' combined total of more than 205 million acres of land mass, less than 1 percent has been affected by fires in 2018. All gateway airports are open as are roads and most tourist attractions are open.
The West Coast Tourism Recovery Coalition plans to raise public awareness about the hundreds of communities and experiences that are unaffected throughout the region, providing on-the-ground updates to tourism industry businesses and residents.
"Wildfires know no borders and have unfortunately become a way of life in the American West, especially in rural communities that rely on welcoming visitors from around the world during the busiest summer and fall seasons when fires most often occur," Beteta said.
While the West Coast Tourism Recovery Coalition works to keep visitors and tourism companies apprised of the recovery, one of the best way travelers can support the region is to visit.
"As fires subside and smoke clears away, all Americans can support these communities by visiting fire-impacted areas for vacations this year," Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson said. "Not only will you have world-class experiences, but you'll create memories to cherish on the spectacular West Coast while also helping your fellow Americans in recovery efforts."
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