The Nelson Chamber of Commerce says local tourism is up 13 per cent for this fiscal year, and though forest fire smoke put a damper on the latter half of August, hotels and businesses still saw an encouraging amount of traffic.
“June was solid, July was solid and September was awesome, and looks like it will continue to be awesome,” said the chamber’s executive director Tom Thomson.
“There were some challenges with summer but Nelson is still a destination people are wanting to come to.”
Thomson said some of the traffic is due to sports tourism.
“There was a summer soccer tournament just after the beginning of July. Whether it’s rainy, cloudy or smoky, there’s still sports tourism pulling in visitors, such as the work being done by Nelson Youth Soccer. And the numbers reflected that in a positive manner.”
Hume Hotel owner Ryan Martin said though August was discouraging, both July and September have been unusually busy.
“August is always very busy with weddings, and we were on path for a 90 to 100 per cent occupancy but then the bottom fell out. The smoke bought us down to about half-full. There were a lot of cancellations, a lot of bad press. It was the smokiest I’ve ever seen it. But the silver lining is how busy July was.”
Martin encouraged everyone to be thankful for the blessing of living in the Kootenays.
“I’m just thankful houses didn’t burn around here like they did in Rock Creek. That was sad to watch. The firefighters were so heroic out there at Six-Mile, and put things out pretty quick. We’re all so grateful for their hard work.”