WTM 2019: California ‘open for business’ with 80% of wildfires contained

Visit California is reassuring tourists that the impact of this year’s wildfires “can’t even be compared” with the damage caused by the 2018 fires.

Speaking at WTM, Jennifer Montero, international marketing director for Visit California, told Travel Weekly: “As of Monday night, 80% of the wildfires in California are contained – there’s been excellent progress in the last three to five days, and I think the really big message is that California is open for business.

“Tourism infrastructure was not impacted like it was in the 2018 fires – you can’t even compare it.

More: WTM 2019: Full coverage from this year’s event

“The best thing people can do for California is visit – tourism is in the top three most important industries for the economies impacted by the fires, and we really want to make it clear as we move into the winter season that people coming will have the full experience – they won’t be impacted.”

Reed said the state was projecting a growth of 2-3% in UK visitor numbers for the year ahead despite other concerns, including currency exchange rates and uncertainty around Brexit.

“Given the current climate we’re very happy about the fact we’re increasing,” she said. “The best news is that research is indicating that intent to travel is up from the UK.

“I think there’s a couple of things driving that – number one we have such strong brand awareness, helped along by new initiatives like our new road trip campaign, launching on December 26, and a new culinary initiative being rolled out across the state.

“I also think there is a market for people who want to get outside of Europe [given Brexit uncertainty], so we might be seeing a small benefit from that as well.”

She added that the luxury market was set to be a key driver for Brits coming, with several new openings pegged for the year ahead, including new Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton resorts, scheduled to open in the Napa Valley in 2020.

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