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Poor air quality may not hurt B.C. tourism, but state of emergency might

Last Updated Aug 16, 2018 at 5:13 am PDT

(Courtesy BC Wildfire Service)

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – With little more than a month left of summer, tourism operators are hoping the new state of emergency doesn’t scare off would-be visitors.

Amber Sessions with Tourism Vancouver says last year’s record-breaking fire season made some people from California, Oregon and Washington cancel last-minute trips to B.C.

“The misinformation and misperception that the whole province was on fire and unsafe which, of course, was not the case,” she says. “We are doing our best, obviously, to mitigate that this year. Currently, Vancouver is fine.”

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Although the air quality across the Lower Mainland is not expected to improve until the wildfire situation does, popular attractions including the Aquarium and Capilano Suspension Bridge haven’t noticed a drop in visitors.

Sessions says most people have been able to adapt.

“Visitors who are already here don’t seem to be overly concerned about the haze and the air quality. They’re sort of treating it like an overcast day, so for example, they might go to an indoor attraction as opposed to, you know, an attraction that they would typically go to for a great view,” she says.

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But it’s the people that are planning their trips that may change their mind. Sessions says those reading the news about the fires may think a visit is no longer a possibility.

“We’re doing our best to give them accurate and relevant information, trying to make them understand that Vancouver is currently not affected directly by the fires, but if they do have respiratory problems, they should probably monitor our current air quality.”

She adds her heart goes out to all the people at risk of losing their homes this year.

“Certainly, we’re thinking about the people and communities directly affected by the fires, firefighters, emergency personnel. Ultimately, it’s a really difficult situation.”

Sessions adds efforts are now being made to make sure there’s no repeat of losses suffered during last summer’s state of emergency which lasted two months.