Midnight Musings from our CEO
There is no question that it has been an incredibly challenging week and equally difficult weekend throughout our beautiful Province of British Columbia as residents and visitors alike have had to leave their communities as a result extreme wildfire conditions. Some have been on notice for days and while others have had only moments to leave home but all share the uncertainty that has lead to sleepless nights and frightening days while they wait for what may come next.
The sheer force of Mother Nature has been immense and unpredictable; it has ravaged the land and anything in its way. Through all this, countless men and women have continued to work tirelessly at the unenviable task of bringing under control something that seems insurmountable; the wins are small, take much time, effort and patience; but unquestionably our forest fighters will get the upper hand. We are a long way from beginning to even think about what the new normal will be in these communities going forward, but the hearts of all in British Columbia, as well as all Canadians, are with everyone affected.
On a different scale, it is also a very difficult time for our tourism industry stakeholders that are in communities not directly affected by wildfires but who are definitely seeing the negative impact of media reporting and messaging that paints the entire province with an air of devastation. Starting with a grave misunderstanding of the words “Province-Wide State of Emergency” and continuing with phraseology such as “BC is Burning” or “Smokey Skies and Poor Air Quality” the result is unprecedented with cancellations in numerous locations that are otherwise unaffected parts of our province and region.
Much of our tourism community is comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners that realize the lion’s share of their revenues during the busy summer season. It is to be sure a very fragile economy and revenues lost as a result of fire activity may be something many of these businesses may never come back from. This challenge is also be faced by tourism operators in areas not directly impacted by fires where there have been crippling business losses largely due to inaccurate media messaging and reporting.
There is no question the fire season has hit parts of the province hard, however, there is less than 1% of the entire province of British Columbia that is actually experiencing wildfires. Air quality in those affected areas is poor but in much of the province continues to be at 2 – 3 on a scale of 10, something that is both normal and considered low risk. The skies are blue and the weather is what our visitors usually wish for, but you will be hard pressed to hear that in most television or radio broadcasts.
Making sure that residents and visitors are informed and safe is paramount to be sure, but sensationalizing stories and inaccurate reporting hurts everyone. Without question, news stories in communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Williams Lake, Princeton and the devastation in Lake Country and surrounding areas this past weekend is terrible and all of those folks as well as their livestock will need our support and assistance for weeks and months to come. But there is another terrible story brewing around the province and it is one we also must all work together to control and combat……the victims of this year’s wildfires span every region…
A Few Highlights from this Week’s News Centre…
We hear a lot about our award winning wines from this region but this week we want to give a big shout out to Urban Distillers who won 6 medals including gold at recent International Spirit competitions in San Francisco (read more); here we “Grow” again as YLW acquires another 78 acres of land for future development plans (read more); as the fire season continues, TOTA will continue to bring information and resources to the industry through our newsletter and weekly updates as information comes available. The following link from go2HR has information on emergency preparedness for the tourism industry which we encourage you reference and read (read more).
Join us for this year’s Golf Tournament August 29th, 2017 at the Golf Course in the Alpine at Sun Peaks Resort. All registered participants are eligible to win 2 passes on Air Canada to anywhere they fly in North America including Hawaii. To register for this year’s tournament go to our website.
Read all of this week’s News Centre stories at news.totabc.org
We hope you keep following and contributing on TOTA’s Facebook and Twitter sites throughout the week; send us your stories, photos, events and remarkable experiences. Make sure the industry knows what is happening around our region and be sure to use #route97 and #explorebc when posting your tourism shots and stories from around the region.