If you’ve watched even a few minutes of the news in the last week then you seen that parts of California have been reduced to a charred smoky mess. It’s an image tourism officials in Southern California don’t want you to see. As firefighters scramble to extinguish the remaining wildfires, members of San Diego’s Convention and Visitors Bureau are scurrying to do damage control of their own.
One official with the group recently told news reporters: “The fires have been a horrible situation, but (the impact on the city) also has been a little overblown. You would think that every single building is burning to the ground.”
Bottom line (according to tourist officials)–the fires have not affected major tourist attractions. Rather, officials say the blazes have been concentrated in regions north and east of the city, which are mostly residential areas where tourists don’t visit.
“From a tourism perspective, there really has been little impact,” says San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau spokespeople.
Which is not to say that major attractions were not closed earlier this week. SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California shut down for four days (both have since reopened), but did so only to help keep roads clear for firefighters and evacuees, and to make things easier for employees who needed to evacuate.
If you have plans to visit the San Diego area in the next few days know that all major attractions are now open. That includes Legoland California, which is going ahead with this weekend’s “Brick or Treat” Halloween event.
Also, hotel managers say rooms are now opening up as evacuees are allowed back to their homes. (An interesting note: According to news reports, even the head of tourism in San Diego County spent Monday and Tuesday night at a hotel when fire officials ordered him to evacuate his home.) All airlines have resumed flights in and out of all Southern California airports and cruise lines sailing out of San Diego and Long Beach were unaffected by the fires.
The one factor that is affecting all visitors (and residents) in San Diego is the air quality. Health officials warn the air quality in the region will remain at “unhealthy” levels for at least the next few days. If you have asthma or suffer a compromised immune system you should consult your doctor before traveling to the area.