Ted Stefani digs through the remains of his home in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colo., on July 5. The house was destroyed in the Waldo Canyon fire, which burned about 28 square miles and damaged or destroyed almost 350 homes . (Jerilee Bennett/AP)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – For anyone wondering how they can help fire victims in Colorado, Mitt Romney has a suggestion: Take a vacation.

Specifically, a vacation here in Colorado Springs.

“Stay at hotels,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee urged his fellow Americans on Tuesday, “go to restaurants and purchase local merchandise.”

A Romney aide said the candidate made the suggestion at the request of some of the fire victims he had met with, who asked him to urge people to vacation in Colorado Springs.

Romney, having just returned from a vacation of his own at his waterfront compound on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, said Americans could help those suffering from the fires that ravaged Colorado over the past few weeks by spending money here.

Never mind that many Americans in the current economy – a new Romney campaign banner dubs it “Obama’s Upside-Down Economy” – cannot afford to take summer vacations.

After touring the Care and Share Food Bank here and meeting with a few families who have suffered in the fires, Romney said, “People around the country are wondering what can they do, because we’ve all watched what’s happened here with horror.”

“People in the immediate community, of course, can bring in canned goods,” Romney said. “But what can people do that are from Boston and New York and Chicago? Well, you can come to Colorado and vacation this summer. Because when you’re in Colorado Springs, a very, very small amount of the area’s been affected by the fire.”

“It’s devastating to the people who have been affected,” Romney continued. “But the great majority of the forest product here and the lakes and the beauty of this area remains exactly as it was before and what’s happening is people are staying away because they think the whole area’s been burned out. It’s not. It’s beautiful.”

View Photo Gallery: Cars were burned to nothing but charred metal, and only concrete remained of many homes in the neighborhoods most damaged by the worst wildfire in Colorado history.

More on the Colorado wildfires:

Firefighters see things they had never seen before

During wildfires, the not knowing hurts the most

Essay: Colo. wildfires hit home