Vancouver wary of SARS

Busy shooting schedule threatened by disease

VANCOUVER — With the fullest shooting schedule this summer in three years, British Columbia is holding its breath over fears that the worldwide outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) may damage its recovering film and television production industry.

“SARS is a large black cloud over the BC economy which we can only dimly see,” said Jock Finlsayson, executive VP of the Business Council of BC. So far, no cancellations or serious delays of projects have been announced.

This week the BC government provided $750,000 for a quickie campaign targeted mainly at Americans in California and Washington to come to the province. A spokesman said a new poll indicates that people in Los Angeles still consider BC one of the safest places in the country to visit.

The BC film and television service industry, which mainly services Hollywood, could pick up business if U.S. travel to other international locations is curtailed.

BC has four probable cases and 38 suspected cases of SARS but no deaths have been reported.

Athough the province has a huge Asian population and Vancouver is a major North American gateway for flights from Asia, it has not been hit as hard as Toronto, with 122 probable cases, 127 suspected cases and 13 deaths attributed to the virus.

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