An almost-deserted Highway 1 heading north from Ashcroft on July 7, during what should have been high tourist season. Highway closures in the wake of the wildfires meant that area businesses were starved of visitors, taking a huge economic toll. Photo: Matti J. Lagerbom.

Surveys beginning to show economic impact of wildfires in the Interior

An estimated $23 million in lost business occurred in the first five weeks after the fires.

Amy Thacker, CEO of Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA), says that there are no good numbers to share in the wake of this summer’s wildfires in the B.C. Interior. “We’ve heard a range of revenue lost from down 15 per cent to down 85 per cent,” she says.

Roofed accommodation (hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts), campgrounds and RV parks, dining and food service businesses, attractions and tours, and festivals and events throughout the region were all affected. “A surprising one for me is retail. We’re hearing that cash registers weren’t ringing; in part because tourists weren’t coming, and in part because residents weren’t out shopping. These businesses may not be able to support clubs and sports teams. It’s a ripple effect.”

She cautions that all the numbers are not yet in, and that the first batch of surveys they have analyzed only cover the first five weeks of the fire. “We’re going back out this month with more surveys, so we can look at the whole impact [of the fires] and share the total economic impact on businesses and tourism operations.”

During those first five weeks after the fires started in early July, there was an estimated economic impact of $23 million lost in our area. “The average revenue loss per business in those first five weeks was $42,000; but the range is from one business losing $1,000 to several having losses of over $250,000 each. I think this will skew a little when the August numbers are in.”

Thacker says that between the fires, road closures, evacuations, and media fears, people weren’t travelling and spending money. “Misinformation picked up by mainstream media never helps small businesses or the tourism industry. They’re very susceptible. People make decisions based on that misinformation, even if it’s corrected.

“That mental fear based on mainstream media misinformation is still there, so we have to change the story to ‘You should still come here, or come back.’” Bookings for next year are down, and Thacker says businesses with social media need to reach out and share stories and pictures to help.

“And make sure CCCTA knows what your situation is,” she advises business owners. “We’re working with the government for immediate aid. If a business is struggling and needs help it needs to let us know. We can’t help if we’re not aware of the situation.”

Thacker says they are working with tourism media to come in and cover the area. “We’re working on strategies to tell different stories, and share positive stories.”

She says a significant number of local events, large and small, were cancelled. “There were major visitor attractions like the Quesnel Air Show cancelled; significant economic drivers. But the smaller events are the fabric of our communities, and they have a role to play.

“There were good turnouts to volunteer and welcome home celebrations, but attendance at other events was down. We’re starting to hear about events and groups that are struggling. Next summer needs to be a celebration as people heal and move forward.”

Thacker says that as far as she knows, the only business that has had to close in the region due to the wildfires is the Semlin Valley Golf Course in Cache Creek. “But I’m hearing anecdotal stories about how if some businesses can’t get support, they might have to close in the spring.

“Most people want to keep going, but they want disaster relief and need support. They’re looking for reduced costs and the replacement of lost revenue as a bridging solution.

“These businesses are an integral part of our communities. There’s a really good energy, and a passion to support each other and be successful as a community.”



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Up to 10 centimetres of snow were expected on Highway 97 from Clinton to Begbie Summit and in 100 Mile House on Oct.24. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)
More sand, plow trucks coming to region

More plows and brine trucks will be operating on the Highway 97 corridor this winter.

Fraser-Nicola BC NDP candidate Aaron Sumexheltza (third from l) with members of the Ashcroft Slough Society, Sept. 9, 2020. After the initial count, the first-time provincial candidate is trailing incumbent Jackie Tegart of the BC Liberal Party. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Liberal incumbent Jackie Tegart holds narrow lead over Aaron Sumexheltza of NDP

Initial count is complete, and mail-in ballots will determine who wins in Fraser-Nicola

(from l) Fraser-Nicola candidates Jonah Timms (BC Green Party), Jackie Tegart (BC Liberal Party), and Aaron Sumexheltza (BC NDP). The polls have now closed and the counting has started. (Photo credit: Submitted)
Results awaited in Fraser-Nicola as polls have now closed

Counting of advance and election day votes has begun; mail-in votes to be counted starting Nov. 6

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read