Though smog dulled the skies above Penticton and hampered turnout at local beaches, Travel Penticton executive director Thom Tischik says the city saw a strong tourism turnout in the month of August.(Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Strong tourism turnout in August

Travel Penticton says August this year topped the same month in 2016, despite smoky skies

The numbers are in, and Penticton’s tourism advocates say the smoke that blanketed the province had less effect on tourism than previously thought in August.

“In July, our numbers were down slightly, and I think that was because the fires had just started, and it was the B.C. state of emergency was called, so there was cancellations, not only in accommodation, but in activity operators and so on. It was just a very volatile time,” Travel Penticton executive director Thom Tischik said.

“But we had a very strong, and actually rebound in August, and our numbers were up over the previous year.”

Related: Travel Penticton pushing for unified voice in TOTA

Tischik said some of the issue for July was also that a state of emergency was declared B.C.-wide, which gave potential tourists the idea that the wildfires were affecting the entire province, when it was largely confined to certain areas.

But numbers for August, which were only recently finalized for Travel Penticton, showed a strong tourism showing, and Tischik said he thinks part of that is because of all of the events that month.

He added September likely won’t beat August’s numbers, but he still expects to see a strong turnout when those numbers are finalized.

Related: Tourism affected by smoky skies

“The weather was great, the smoke had pretty much been done, we had good, warm weather, we still had strong visitation,” he said.

Tischik said he thinks people without children who cancelled travel plans during the smoky months may have taken their holidays in the region in September, when the weather and smoke had cleared up.

“But that’s a pretty tough analysis to do. We don’t really have a major handle on that, but we can work with agencies like TOTA (Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association) and Destination B.C., who have the capacity to do those kind of stat analysis.”

Related: 2017 now worst wildfire season in B.C.

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