Wildfire smoke is affecting people’s attitudes – and their business – in the Okanagan.
Even though the majority of B.C. fires are hundreds of kilometres away, residents can’t wait for the return of some sunshine.
”The smoke has affected Kelowna as a whole, and obviously, being one of the larger hotels in Kelowna, it is going to affect us,” said Jason Guyitt, director of operations at the Delta Grand.
“People aren’t wanting to come to Kelowna because of the smoke. The smoke is hurting patios because people aren’t able to sit out as long as what they have in the past, so it’s affecting business for sure, Guyitt added.
But he stressed: Kelowna is still open for business.
“Kelowna is open. There is lots to do here. We don’t want the smoke to impact people from coming,” he said.
In the North Okanagan, restaurant patios have been sparsely filled as thick smoke clogs the air.
“Because of the smoke, tourist season has kind of plummeted a little bit. Not as many people are coming to the Okanagan, so it’s definitely affected our patio,” said Melissa Yano, manager of downtown Vernon restaurant The Naked Pig.
With little sun poking through the haze, most customers sit inside.
“As you can tell today, everybody is sitting inside rather than outside, as would I. I don’t want to affect my lungs that way. It has definitely has some effect our business.”
“Usually, we’re slamming busy out on the patio from midday all the way into the night.”
At LocoLanding Adventure Park in Penticton, a slow July has been replaced by a busy August.
The slow start was mostly due to tourists thinking it was closed due to floods and then fires, said owner Diana Stirling.
“We’re hopeful that August is looking strong,” she said. “The news is out, everything is still happening here. We’re still a great place to visit, and Penticton is still ready to welcome everybody.”
“Ultimately, this isn’t the perfect vacation that everyone planned for, without the sun and not being able to see the hills, but everyone is like: ‘ya know what, we’re here, we are on vacation,'” Stirling said.
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