Prince George ‘Seeing a Lot of Travellers’ Despite Wildfire Crisis
Prince George, B.C. – Though British Columbia is suffering through the midst of its most devastating wildfire season in provincial history, that still hasn’t stopped visitors from making their way to Prince George.
Tourism Prince George CEO Erica Hummel says that’s thanks in large part to its European market of visitors.
“The German market and the UK market largely,” she says. “They always book in advance and they book usually through a tour operator. It’s more difficult for them to cancel and re-arrange their plans. So, what we’re seeing is still a lot of Europeans and a lot of people from The States coming through.”
But once those tourists arrive, Hummel admits in many cases they are having to rejig their plans to avoid areas affected by wildfires.
“They’re having to kind of change their plans, establish a new itinerary on the way. So, our Visitor Centre’s been very busy re-routing people and helping them through their summer plans,” she says.
“And so, we’ve seen a lot of travellers. What we’re not seeing is so many of the British Columbians and the Albertans, the folks that make last minute plans. They’re all staying home or going further afield.”
She says the most recent visitor stats she has for the year in Prince George are for the month of June (she says accurate year over year numbers aren’t available because hours at the Visitors Centre have changed).
“The European market is up 6 per cent over last June. Our Asian market is up 11 per cent over last June. The States is kind of on par with where we were last year and like I said the British Columbians, Albertans and domestic markets are down from last year.”
Looking ahead to future summers, is she concerned B.C.’s tourism industry will suffer because of this year’s raging wildfires?
“I don’t anticipate that being a long-term problem. I don’t think the reputation of British Columbia will be tainted so much in terms of being a great place to experience wonderful things,” says Hummel.
“It remains to be seen if the landscape is significantly damaged in terms of parks and in terms of hiking trails in the future but I think generally, we have such a huge demand for our experience’s in British Columbia that I think it will continue to pull through.”