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What Fire? Colorado Open for Business

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Image is everything. And this past week the national image of Colorado has been one of dark plumes of smoke and bright red and orange flames leaping into the air from the High Park Fire. KUNC’s Emily Boyer spoke to state tourism Director Al White about whether the fireis impacting the number of out-of-state visitors coming to Colorado.

Director White says so far he hasn't heard of any negative impacts to tourism caused by the High Park Fire.

"Anecdotally when I talk to people around the state they indicate that reservations for the summer are up."

The High Park Fire has charred more than 52,000 acres west of Fort Collins and is one of Colorado's largest wildfires. But White says since that the blaze is so isolated it's unlikely to to have much of an affect on the overall state tourism numbers.

Governor Hickenlooper's office is working with the state tourism office to insure that tourists visiting Colorado welcome centersreceive accurate information regarding the High Park Fire. 

White says Governor Hickenlooper is taking a different approach to handling this year's wildfire season than former Governor Bill Owen did in 2002. That year was Colorado's most destructive wildfire season to date and then Governor Bill Owen announced, ''It looks as if all of Colorado is burning today.''

"That [comment] got legs and I think it put a lot of people off and everybody assumed that wherever they were headed was going to be ablaze and so people canceled their reservations and it was a devastating summer season."

White says Governor Hickenlooper is being careful to just relay facts concerning the High Park Fire without sensationalism.

My journalism career started in college when I worked as a reporter and Weekend Edition host for WEKU-FM, an NPR member station in Richmond, KY. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.
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