Published On: Tuesday, 25 July 2017

We All Have a Part to Play in Helping Out With the Wildfires

We All Have a Part to Play in Helping Out With the Wildfires

- Paul Nursey is the President and CEO of Tourism Victoria.

GREATER VICTORIA - As images of families and firefighters threatened by wildfire flash across our social media feeds and television screens, our first thoughts are for the safety and wellbeing of people directly affected.

With parts of the province in a state of emergency, it is important we receive quick access to accurate information. Tourism industry workers are often the first point of contact for visitors to our province, and they need to be able to communicate with people who may not understand the context of what they are seeing.

British Columbia is a huge landmass and there can be a great distance between events happening across the province. However, the scale of BC can be lost on international visitors allowing them to be easily confused by misleading information.

One way that quality information is being disseminated quickly is through regular updates from our provincial partners at Destination BC. The communications team there is distributing fact sheets with the latest updates from official sources to Visitor Services centres across the province. These bulletins help staff inform visitors about what’s going on as well as resources available to make safe choices about their stay in BC.

While Greater Victoria is not immune to wildfires, as we saw with the recent blaze near Sooke, we are a region that has been left relatively unscathed.

We are also a gateway to the Island, the rest of the province and to Canada itself so it is vitally important we give visitors good advice that will help keep them safe. One of the most important messages we can offer is that BC remains open for business.

These wildfires should not be seen as a potential advantage for any region. The fact is the tourism industry relies on inspiring potential travellers. The perception that BC is not a great place to be hurts every destination in the province, regardless of how far away they are from any fire.

That’s why it is important for every business in our region to remind their customers that it is business as usual and we are happy to have them here. By doing so, we can keep our provincial tourism economy strong as well as potentially influencing visitors who are still planning a future trip.

For everyone affected by fire in the Interior, let’s hope recovery can begin soon.