Drivers wait for an open sailing at BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen terminal last week, with a smoke haze visible from Interior wildfires. Sailing waits have been frequent despite hourly sailings to Vancouver island. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Tourist cancellations far beyond B.C. wildfire zone

Vancouver Island traffic up, misinformation a problem

A booming tourist season that has caused a surge of ferry traffic to Vancouver Island is partly driven by people avoiding B.C. Interior destinations, even those unaffected by wildfires.

Tourism operators are reporting cancellations in the Kootenay-Rockies, Thompson Okanagan and other areas where fires and smoke are not an obstacle to travel, Maya Lange, vice-president of marketing for Destination B.C., said Thursday. Traffic to Vancouver Island traffic is particularly up, as national media report fire and smoke issues extending to the Lower Mainland.

The provincial tourism agency is increasing its annual Explore B.C. marketing program with print, TV, billboards and social media to make sure people have accurate information on what areas are affected. Visitors are asked to check HelloBC.com/wildfire for up-to-date information on roads and air quality.

“We are encouraging businesses in non-impacted areas to contact their customers who have reservations to share updates, to correct any misinformation they may have and to ensure that they know where to access information and prevent cancellations,” Lange said. “From a recovery perspective, we will ensure that impacted areas have additional marketing support once it is safe to visit again and capacity has been established.”

Emergency Management B.C. officials say there were 600 applications in the first 24 hours after the province announced a $1,500 emergency grant program for affected businesses, non-profits and aboriginal communities whose traditional cultural activities are affected. Information on the program is available from the Red Cross (www.redcross.ca), which is administering the grants. (Online application forms can be found here.)

Eligible organizations are those with 50 employers or fewer, have a income of less than $250,000 per year, have been in operation on or before July 7, 2017 and have resumed operations or are intending to restart as soon as possible.

While winds and lightning are a concern in the days ahead for the Cariboo-Chilcotin region and northern B.C., progress has been made on large fires and the situation for residents has improved. As of Thursday there were 27 evacuation orders in effect with 4,400 people forced from their homes, and another 21,000 on evacuation alert. Both totals have declined this week as some orders and alerts have been downgraded.

B.C. Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said while new fires continue to be reported, most have been contained quickly. The majority of the battle is still taking place to contain fires that were sparked by dry lightning on July 7, when the provincial state of emergency began.

Just Posted

Bear spotted in Qualicum Beach

Full-grown bear spotted in complex at Berwick and Rupert roads

Canadians on epic journey arrive in Nanoose

Snaw-Naw-As First Nation welcomes participants of Canada C3 voyage

Kwalikum Secondary student back from year in Netherlands

Don’t pass up opportunity to travel with Qualicum Beach Rotary’s help, says Taylor Hunter

Resident slam loud dynamite blasting at Cedar Ridge Estate development

Sleigh feels insulted by Mayor Lefebrve who failed to understand their suffering

RDN creates new service to fund INfilm

Regional district to enter three year agreement with film commision for annual funding of $50,000

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

Qualicum Beach residents discuss long-term vision for community wellness

Three more meetings on topic scheduled for Oct. 24 and 25

VIDEO: Motorcycle catches fire in Nanaimo traffic

Motorcyclist takes fast action to get burning bike off the road along the old Island Highway

Open house features both sides of the issues on Bowser sewage project

New association opposing marine outfall use event to also express their concerns

Nanaimo man assaulted, tied up and robbed at his home

Incident occurred about 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at a home on Beverly Drive

Parksville draft park plan goes before public

People invited to open house Oct. 28 at Parksville Community and Conference Centre

Most Read