SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Businesses are still feeling the heat from the Thomas Fire but Santa Barbara is open for business.
As containment on the Thomas Fire inches toward 100 percent, the local hospitality, and tourism industry is hoping they too can get back to business as usual.
"Everyone that was supposed to be in Santa Barbara for the holidays decided to just cancel so they're just not here anymore," said Ryan Simorangkir, owner of Sama Sama Test Kitchen.
Visit Santa Barbara just unveiled a new marketing campaign Friday, thanking first responders for their tireless work to protect our community.
It's part of a new recovery strategy that emerged at the last minute, a way to foster business development in 2018 and bring business back to Santa Barbara.
"We want everyone to understand that most of our hospitality businesses have not been impacted by the fire and most are open right now as well," said Kathy Janega-Dykes, President and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara.
Industries hit hard have had to re-group and re-strategize going into the new year.
"The concern is that a lot of the customers that are booking business in January may still fear that the fire has impacted our hospitality industry and I think these real-time videos and photos are really helpful," said Janega-Dykes.
Janega-Dykes calls it the recovery stage, utilizing digital marketing and social media to bring business back.
"We promoted what Santa Barbara now looks like via social media, our Facebook page has all the beautiful views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean so I think there's now a strong surge for people to come back to Santa Barbara," Ed Galsterer.
After significant cancellations, Galsterer at the Santa Barbara Inn says the recovery strategy is working.
"Instead of being sold out two weeks ago now we're selling out two days so its short term," said Galsterer.
Despite a rally at the finish line, Galsterer now has his sights set on life beyond New Year's Eve.
"The long-term effects will be what happens in January and February," said Galsterer.
Visit Santa Barbara conducted a survey and found that over 70 percent of hospitality businesses polled suffered significant cancellations from December 4 to the 17 and over 50 percent are concerned about long-term impacts to their business.