Tourism officials in Washington’s wildfire areas, from Leavenworth to Chelan and the Methow Valley, are busy reassuring travelers that they’re open for business — and dearly want visitors.
“We have received numerous calls and inquiries regarding the fire, smoke, and related closures, and having just returned from a three-day tour of the region myself I can say without a doubt that these communities are eager to welcome visitors,” said a statement Monday from Annette Pitts, executive director of the Cascade Loop Association which manages tourism promotion for the 440-mile Cascade Loop Scenic Highway.
“We’d like to clear the air, so to speak, with regard to myths and rumors that are circulating and let people know that the entire Cascade Loop Scenic Highway is open for business,” said Pitts. (The Cascade Loop includes the North Cascades Highway and U.S. 2 over Stevens Pass, including communities such as Winthrop, Chelan and Leavenworth.)
Many visitors have delayed or canceled their visits, often unnecessarily, said Pitts, with Lake Chelan, Leavenworth, Pateros, Twisp, and Winthrop among the communities suffering the most tourism disruption.
“If I could communicate one thing to the public it would be that the residents and businesses along the Cascade Loop welcome, want, and need visitors to resume their plans to travel to the region,” said Pitts.
The Cascade Loop Tourist Association also gathered these statements from communities along the route:
Kristen Smith, Marketing Director, Winthrop Chamber of Commerce:
“Winthrop is open for all your summer recreation and fun. The fires did not affect Winthrop and the immediate surrounding areas, including Mazama and the North Cascades, so the same great experience visitors have come to expect in Winthrop is available right now. Businesses along Winthrop’s historic western boardwalk, including lodges, hotels, and campgrounds, are open and ready to extend a friendly hello. ….”
Nancy Smith, Executive Director, Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce:
“Despite what you’ve heard, there is no fire in Leavenworth. We’ve enjoyed beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures. Call us, as an occasional wind shift can bring in a light smoky haze in the morning from area wilderness fires. Despite what you may have heard, Leavenworth has been gloriously open and welcoming guests.”
Mike Steele, Executive Director, Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce:
“Lake Chelan is experiencing its typically beautiful summer weather under clear blue skies, and all activities and events continue as planned. All businesses and tourism related services are open and ready to welcome visitors to the Lake Chelan Valley.”
Amy Stork, Executive Director, Twisp Chamber of Commerce:
“Twisp is open for business, and we invite visitors to come meet our community full of amazing every day heroes.”