Monterey County

Where are the Big Sur tourists going?

Soberanes fire impacts Central Coast tourism

MONTEREY, Calif. - As the flames from the Soberanes fire continue to grow, tourism in Big Sur is declining. Officials said business is down 25-50 percent.

"It's important that we support those businesses when all of this clears up," said Monterey County Convention and Visitor's Burea President and CEO Tammy Blount. "We have to be sensitive to the needs of the residents and the volunteers and the firefighters that are working so hard to put out the fire and keep us safe."

With campgrounds and parks in Big Sur now closed, visitors are shifting their plans to other parts of Monterey County.

"People that were going to be camping are of course looking for other sites because they're not able to camp in Big Sur," said Blount.

But it's not just campgrounds outside Big Sur seeing more foot traffic.

"Yea we've definitely seen an increase approximately starting two weeks ago," said The Wharf Marketplace marketing manager Nathan Long.

The Wharf Marketplace said they've seen about a 20-30 percent increase in business.

"The first weekend kind of took us by surprise because the fire really had just started," said Long. "But then once we kind of realized, oh wow it's just probably because of the fire with so much devastation with Hwy 1 and not being able to get through. So plans being deterred and people stopping here."

Even though they're pretty close to the wildfire, shops in Carmel by the Sea told KION it's been business as usual for them.

"Some people may have been deterred because of the fires, but I think for the most part we still have a pretty good crowd coming in," said Betsy Durnell, owner of The Soiled Doves Bath House.

To help out, businesses in Monterey county are teaming up to raise money for Soberanes fire relief with a Farmer's Market and downtown dining events this Sunday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Two weeks down the line, the Soberanes Fire is having a noticeable effect on local tourism. Parks, campgrounds and hiking trails are closed. Where are Big Sur's visitors going instead?

Tonight at 5 and 6, KION's Maya Holmes visits hotels and restaurants to measure the fire's impact on local tourism.


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