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Jackson Hole tourism not deterred by wildfire

Firefighters have managed to keep homes in Jackson Hole safe from the flames of the Horsethief Canyon Fire, but the local tourism board has been working to keep businesses safe from the effects of the smoke.

The lodging tax board in Jackson Hole called an emergency meeting last week, during which they set aside $20,000 to convince tourists that it is still safe to come to Jackson.

All of this was happening amid concerns that smoke from the wildfire would drive people away from local businesses.

The community was in damage control mode, but there was no damage.

“I didn’t want to miss the Tetons, even though there was a smoky atmosphere,” said Becky Ritch, a tourist from Virginia.

“We did hear that there were fires here, but that didn’t stop us,” said Stephanie Soth, who was visiting from Washington with her husband.

The Chamber of Commerce reported two hotel cancellations in town.

Lexington Hotel sales director Frank Lane said that business there has been excellent for this time of year.

“When the fire started, it was a little smoky, it was in the news, we had some folks ask us about it. We told them it was south of town and not posing any problems to town,” Lane said. “It’s always been a busy time of year and I didn’t see any drop off from it.”

The money that would have been used to coax tourists back into Jackson Hole comes from tourists who check into local hotels.

“There’s no question that if things would have gone south, we had a fund that we could immediately tap into to make sure that we’re driving tourism to the area,” said Chamber of Commerce director Jeff Golightly.

Golightly does not think that those funds will be used, in which case, the money will be returned to the tax board.

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