May 25th, 2024

‘The whole country is not on fire’: Canadian tourism industry struggles as fires rage

By The Canadian Press on May 15, 2024.

Smoke from the McDougall Creek wildfire fills the air and nearly blocks out the sun as people take in the view of Okanagan Lake from Tugboat Beach, in Kelowna, B.C., on August 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OTTAWA – Climate change and its deluges of severe weather and wildfires have left many Canadian tourism companies struggling to get insurance and convince visitors that Canada is still open for business.

Beth Potter, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, says there are direct effects for certain tourist areas when bad weather hits.

But she says the biggest challenge is that many international visitors see a headline about wildfires in one part of Canada and don’t understand that they are having no impact on most of the country.

Potter says she heard from tourism operators in southwestern Ontario last summer about cancellations due to fires largely more than 3,500 kilometres away in British Columbia.

She also says that some operators have been finding insurance more expensive – if they can even secure it – as the risks from severe weather force the insurance industry to rethink costs.

Tourism Minister Soraya Martínez Ferrada says there is no “miracle” cure, but government and industry must prepare for the worst because climate change isn’t going away.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024.

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