Monday, April 23 , 2018, 4:37 pm | Mostly Cloudy 61º



City Says, Get Word Out: Santa Barbara Open for Business

The Thomas Fire took a heavy toll on local businesses with many reporting the loss of critical revenue in December, one of the biggest shopping months of the year, the city of Santa Barbara reports.

The city is working with Visit Santa Barbara and other business organizations to support recovery efforts for merchants impacted by the fire.

Plans are underway with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to encourage attendees to shop and dine between movies.

With a federal disaster declaration partially approved, the city is working with the county Office of Emergency Management, and state and federal legislative officials to identify whether businesses are eligible for assistance.

This is particularly challenging for the Santa Barbara area because while businesses were significantly impacted through a lack of pedestrian traffic, they were not physically destroyed which is a key marker for disaster relief.
For those interested in helping out, the city has the following suggestions:

» Simply shop at local businesses now that clear skies and beautiful views are back.

» Check out post-holiday sales.

» Consider rescheduling that holiday party that was canceled by the fire.

» Catch up with friends over a glass of wine and a good meal.

» Many stores have re-opened with special offers and promotions. Support the community's economic vitality by spending at local businesses instead of online retailers.

» Jan. 4 is First Thursday when visitors and locals can go to a downtown art gallery, shop and have dinner.

Local dollars will keep Santa Barbara merchants in business so the community can continue to thrive with unique local shops.
Tourism has also been deeply impacted with fewer overnight visits, after dramatic videos and photos of flames and smoke reached a worldwide audience, the city reports.

While it was a close call, and Santa Barbara is grateful for the extraordinary firefighting, the community was not devastated by the fire. The city suggests posting photos on social media of clear skies and the natural beauty of Santa Barbara.

Let friends and colleagues know Santa Barbara has returned to normal and their visits are welcome, the city said. Sending the right message can help the community recover.
— Nina Johnson for city of Santa Barbara.

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