Climate change is impacting the tourism industry

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PORTLAND, OREGON (NBC) – Climate change is impacting companies of all kinds. Those catering to tourists are witnessing changes firsthand and that’s changing how they run their businesses.

Now we have new details on how one Portland, Oregon company is transforming their trips because of drought-fueled wildfires.

"When I started my business in 2007, I had no idea just how much climate change was going to impact my business as a whole,” said David Penilton, owner of Oregon Tour Experts. “And so we’ve actually been adapting over the years, little by little. But now it seems like it’s speeding up even more."

"Not only have we been in a statewide drought for almost two decades, and that’s pretty much true for the whole West Coast, despite all this water and all this greenery, we are in a drought,” said Adam Smith, guide for America’s Hub World Tours. “But just four years ago, we had a major forest fire that was started by a human throwing fireworks in the forest…the effect of the fire was magnified by the drought…had a massive impact on our tourism, we had to close this area down for a couple years."

"This shut down the biggest tourist attraction in Oregon, Multnomah Falls, and all the nearby waterfalls,” Smith said. “It also filled the Willamette Valley with smoke, choking our city, shutting down many of our activities."

"All these trees and vegetation is now gone,” Smith said. “We have massive landslide issues and landslides are always an issue in Oregon, but when you burn the forest up, it only becomes worse. So we’re about to get off the main freeway and begin driving the Columbia Scenic Highway. And over the last few years, they’ve had to put in massive amounts of special fencing to avoid rocks falling, trees falling and whole landslides."

"And all the ice on the mountains, the glaciers are shrinking,” Smith said. “Our year round skiing opportunities are disappearing on Mt. Hood and the rivers are lower. And people like me that love rafting and kayaking, we have to time our trips to the rivers for the water flows."

"I just think there’s so many opportunities there that we can grow from it, because at the end of the day, if we’re going to make a difference, it’s going to take all of us throughout the world,” Penilton said. “This climate change is happening real fast."