wildfires continued to burn large areas of Southern California, the
California travel industry is emphasizing that airports and major
attractions, such as Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo, are open and
In the hardest hit
area, San Diego County, the San Diego Convention and Visitors
Bureau, via its Web site at www.sandiego.org, is putting out the message
that much of the county's main tourist and business travel
destinations are unaffected.
"We do not want to
minimize the terrible situation of those who lost homes, but we
want to get the word out that the wildfires affected certain
residential areas and that San Diego is open for tourism," David
Peckinpaugh, bureau president and CEO, told Travel Weekly. He said
the bureau plans to launch a PR and advertising campaign to assure
travelers that all is well for visitors to the area.
For those with
concerns about particulate matter and soot in the air, the bureau's
site has a link to the San Diego Air Pollution Control District air
quality site, which breaks down air quality by county zone,
including the downtown core.
attractions, most notably SeaWorld and Legoland, closed for a few
days, they were scheduled to reopen by Friday. The San Diego Zoo
never closed, and downtown hotels and air service were never
affected. In addition, the San Diego Convention Center and hotels
located in central San Diego were never threatened by the
October is the peak
month in San Diego for meetings and conventions and there were "a
few" cancellations, Peckinpaugh said, adding that the impact on
leisure travel is not yet known.
"We are open for
business despite the challenges posed by these devastating fires,"
said Carol Wallace, President and CEO of the San Diego Convention
Center Corp., which markets, manages and operates the center, said
in a statement.
More than 6,000
attendees participated in the American Society of Human Genetics
annual meeting at the downtown convention center, which was
scheduled for Oct. 23 to 27.
According to the
convention center, event attendees freed up hotel rooms for local
evacuees by doubling-up on rooms and volunteered to provide medical
assistance to evacuees, meanwhile, the ASHG has launched a relief
fund to help provide additional resources to local relief
"We have been
deeply touched and appreciative of the incredible efforts made by
ASHG attendees, exhibitors, as well as ASHG meeting organizers who
have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support the relief
efforts currently underway in San Diego," said Wallace.
continued to fight the wildfires, many hotels in the San Diego
region offered discounted rooms to evacuees and
northern San Diego County, the luxury Rancho Bernardo Inn escaped
serious damage. The resort, which is currently undergoing a $25
million renovation, took in about 60 local residents who had been
evacuated on Sunday night. However, the next morning guests and
staff at the resort had to be evacuated. They were not able to
return until two days later.
The resort suffered
minimal damage to its golf course and hotel, some of it caused not
by fire but by damage from the fierce Santa Ana winds.
Travel and Tourism Commission, which debuted a TV advertising
campaign with a playful theme featuring celebrities in early
October, pulled the advertising until Nov. 4 to evaluate whether to
tweak the message.
The CTTC now is
attempting to "calm the fears of prospective visitors" and spread
the message that "not all California is closed for business.
Southern California airports, hotels and most attractions are open
for business." The CTTC is urging visitors to call to confirm
flights, road conditions and hours of operation instead of
canceling travel plans.
contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].