After several years of historic wildfires, California has to take a hard look at the future of tourism in its wine regions and mountain resort communities. The fires have exacerbated problems such as a lack of affordable workforce housing.
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Fall and summer are normally delightful times to visit California’s wine country and mountain resorts, but in recent years these seasons have become synonymous with wildfires of historic proportions. While tourism infrastructure has been largely unscathed and overall visitor numbers remain high, those who manage and market tourism to California are up against long-term challenges.
Communities are struggling to rebuild after the fires, which have exacerbated one of California’s most pressing issues — a lack of affordable housing. Fewer people employed by tourism-related businesses can afford to live in or near the destinations in which they work. Another challenge is to redirect tourism, especially in wine country, away from the popular but fire-prone fall harvest season.
Increasingly, destination marketing organizations in the state are working with local governments and other entities to address housing, traffic, climate change, and other issues. They realize it’s no longer just about getting people to visit the destination — it’s about ensuring the destination remains a worthwhile place to visit.
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— Maria Lenhart, Travel Advisor Editor
How the California Wildfires Are Impacting Tourism: Several years of devastating wildfires have taken a toll on California tourism but have not affected overall visitor numbers. Instead, the fires have changed the way the state markets itself and made it harder for tourism employees to live in California.
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Skift Travel Advisor Editor Maria Lenhart [[email protected]] curates the Skift Travel Advisor Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send her an email.
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Photo credit: Resident Keith Bispo points to his house in the Palo Colorado community while interviewed in Big Sur, California, July 29, 2016, with wildfires raging to the north. Affordable housing in regions impacted by wildfires is an issue for the tourism industry. Terry Chea / Associated Press