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With road closed, some guests cancelling trips to Vancouver Island's west coast

Guests are forced to fly in or brave a rough forest service road
Tofino's Chesterman Beach. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keven Drews

Tourism is taking a hit on ­Vancouver Island’s popular west coast with Highway 4 blocked due to the Cameron Bluffs fire, leaving guests the choice to fly in or brave a rough forest ­service road. Some have scrapped their plans for an early summer ­holiday.

Ucluelet Campground received 36 cancellations between Tuesday and Thursday, manager Kali Reit said.

“We would like to see them here but it is not an option and safety is foremost. We don’t want people travelling that forest service road if it can be avoided.”

No one knows how long the highway will be closed, but many are speculating it could be at least five days.

At Tofino’s renowned Wickanninish Inn, managing director Charles McDiarmid said the community has experienced highway closures in the past few years due to road construction near Kennedy Lake, but this situation is something new.

The hotel at Chesterman Beach is a little quieter than usual because of cancellations, he said. The fire “definitely put a crimp in the visitation for sure.” Guests are being alerted to the situation, provided with government updates, and informed about ways to get in and out of Tofino, such as flying or taking the forest road, although McDiarmid said the hotel is not recommending the detour to its guests.

Both Pacific Coastal Airlines and Harbour Air have put on extra flights. Some guests have left rental vehicles behind at the hotel and grouped together to charter a floatplane out of Tofino. Rental agencies will retrieve the vehicles for a fee.

Guests not able to arrive are given the option of booking another date or cancelling, McDiarmid said. Some guests were planning to fly to Tofino in any case, to avoid the long drive. “A lot more people are flying into Tofino these days.”

The hotel is well-supplied, thanks to delivery trucks filling its custom orders.

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