Despite a provincial state of emergency, hotels in Kelowna are hard to come by

Hotels booked solid

For 67 weeks, B.C. was under a state of emergency due to COVID-19, and now the province has emerged into yet another due to wildfires, but hotels in Kelowna aren't feeling any negative effects from the fires.

With roughly 300 wildfires burning province wide, some are without a home as they’ve had to evacuate, and businesses in affected communities have had to close once again after months of closures during the pandemic. Mayor Colin Basran says the fires haven’t had much of an economic impact on Kelowna, but that could change.

“I don’t think it's really having any major financial impact on our community right now. I think that when you look at the number of people who are visiting here, the economy is still strong and people still want to come to Kelowna, so I dont think it's been much of a deterrent thus far. However, the scary part is that we’re only in mid July.” Basran also said we’ll have to wait and see.

Lisanne Ballantyne is the President and CEO of Tourism Kelowna, and she says the hazy conditions may force people to alter their plans while visiting, but the hotels are already packed.

“The haze is absolutely affecting the travel experience and it's so unfortunate, it's also going to affect the hotels as well. Now thankfully, most of our hotels were booked well in advance. It's our busiest season here in July and August, our peak dates, and what we’re hearing is that people are still coming, but they are checking with their hotels to get a sense of what the experience will be like.”

Ballantyne also says since the hotels are booked solid, that may mean it will be tricky to house evacuees should they need to come here. “It's a very challenging situation for those agencies who look after evacuees, in those really terrible conditions, and it's tricky. If you look around we’ve got hotels in Kelowna, but they’re booked solid.” She also said finding space for evacuees is the responsibility of the government, but that Tourism Kelowna will support where they can.

Kelowna is still offering support for evacuees from all over the province who need it through the Emergency Support Services. Premier John Horgan is encouraging anyone with trips planned near fire zones to check with local resources, including their accommodation providers, to ensure it's safe to travel before leaving.

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