Sierra national forest fires impact tourism business in surrounding towns

Sierra national forest fires impact tourism business in surrounding towns

04 September 2017

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USA –  OAKHURST, Calif. — Multiple fires happening in the North valley are not only hard on evacuees and fire crews but also the businesses that rely on tourism.

Many said they are seeing less customers and tourists and a big reason is because of the closure of Highway 41 into Yosemite.

Highway 41 is quiet with few cars making their way through Oakhurst.

“The drive by traffic has dropped significantly,” said Richard Garner, Owner of Yosemite Bicycle and Sport.

Labor Day weekend is usually busier. The fires and Highway 41’s closure is pushing people away.

“There is nothing left here to bring people to town,” said Garner.

Richard Garner owns Yosemite Bicycle and Sport in Oakhurst. He sells bikes and provides sporting equipment rentals but he says his items are not in demand.

“My customer count is down 75% at least,” said Garner.

Garner said half of his customers consists of tourists visiting Yosemite and Bass Lake. With the fires and all of the smoke, the activity rentals that keep his business afloat are not possible.

“It impacts the bottom line, you don’t make as much. We expect tourism as a way to stay alive in a small town like this,” said Garner.

It is the same situation for Robert Moreno, Owner of Robert’s Frostee on Highway 41 in Coarsegold.

“The record numbers were not here over the weekend. There was just no attendance,” said Robert Moreno, owner of Robert’s Frostee.

Moreno said he geared up for Labor Day weekend for some time. Expecting hundreds of customers, he ordered more food and brought in more staff.

He said his revenue was down by 40%.

“It is scary. You just don’t know where revenue is coming from but bills keep coming in,” said Moreno.

As the fire burns, both business owners worry about the areas that draw the tourists.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t destroy natural resources we draw from,” said Garner.

Business owners said they are hoping the Highway will be back open soon.

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