Sonoma County Tourism: We’re Still Here After California Wildfires

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (CBS13) — It’s an area that’s famous throughout the region and the world for its tourism. But October’s vicious wildfires have scared away some visitors from Sonoma County. Campaigns are now underway to bring them back.

“As you arrive you will see the resort has not been impacted by the fires,” said Fairmont Hotels and Resorts spokeswoman Michele Heston.

She’s been giving a lot of virtual tours lately, showcasing the 13 acres of lush grounds at the Sonoma Mission Inn.

“We walked around with an iPhone and said, look, this is across the street, this is our yard, this is our spa,” she said.

ALSO READ: Insurance Companies Hired Private Firefighters For California Wildfires

Many visitors have to be convinced, she says, because they’re picturing the recent devastating fires in the wine country. Those fires are out now, but many hotels, restaurants, and wineries are seeing some customers canceling plans to visit.

“For the few first few days, we received multiple calls people concerned with the status of the hotel,” she said.

Heston says the resort has seen a few cancellations, but through videos and other outreach, it has convinced many guests its business as usual.

But it is enticing visitors with specials-unheard of this time of year.

“There’s numerous discounts as well as promotions with value ads with spa and dining.”

Visitor Bruce Abelson from New Jersey is here for a conference.

ALSO READ: California Asks For $7.4 Billion To Help Wildfire Recovery

“It was very big news even there. There was a lot of horrible footage of fires in aftermath even up to a few days ago,” he said.

“The perception is that the entire county was affected and was burned down, which is not true,” says Tim Zahner with Sonoma County Tourism.

According to Zahner, about 10 percent of the county was affected, with much of that located in very rural areas and of course Santa Rosa. But he says the majority of the wineries were untouched.

“There are 425 wineries in Sonoma County, and only one of them has been affected to the point of shutting down.”

He says the county’s biggest local tourism markets are San Francisco and Sacramento and media campaigns are hitting those markets and others, reminding potential visitors that many businesses are open and excited to see them.

“Not only are we OK but a lot of small businesses and people who were affected could be helped by people coming here.”

Sonoma County Tourism is encouraging visitors to check its website for deals and promotions at http://sonomacounty.com/deals.

More from Kelly Ryan
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