Why your tourism dollars are more important than ever: The Australian Bushfires
How you can help bushfire affected tourism businesses:
Why your tourism dollars are more important than ever
Throughout the bushfire-affected zones of NSW, South Australia and Victoria, many accommodation businesses – and the communities and families which rely on them – are facing many challenges as the clean-up after the horrific bushfires that swept through many parts of Australia begins.
Tourism operators are hoping people don’t abandon them in the most difficult of times.
Support these tourism operators and grab a great deal at the same time!
When businesses struggle, so too do employees, and with reduced work and reduced income, many struggling families have and will experience difficulties remaining afloat.
The executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, Simon Westaway, estimated the bushfire crisis had cost the national industry “hundreds of millions” of dollars.
“I wouldn’t want to put a billion in front of it yet,” he said.
“Every bed was cancelled in a fire zone, and even in non-fire zones, the cancellation rates have been upwards of 50 per cent.”
From fires in Queensland starting as early as September, to the mid north coast of NSW fires, and the most recent fires that ravaged southern NSW, Victoria and Kangaroo Island, there is no denying that tourism businesses have had more than their fair share of difficulties in the past year.
In the Blue Mountains, there have been a number of fires in surrounding areas, but none have reached the townships in the main tourist area. Many tourism businesses however have seen 100% of its bookings cancelled, with some forced to cut shifts and reduce permanent hours. Some companies are even considering letting employees go if things don’t change fast.
The usually popular beachside destination of Kiama is 90 minutes south of Sydney and hasn’t had a fire in the current crisis. But while January is normally their busiest month, it looks like this year’s trade will be significantly weakened, with toursim operators reporting a significant downturn.
However, it is now time to pick up the pieces and move forward.
“Our very strong message to future visitors is to keep us in your thoughts over the coming weeks and months as you plan your holidays,” says Bega Valley Shire’s Daniel Murphy.
“Most of what people love about this place remains and I really believe there is now an opportunity to go deeper and connect with the Sapphire Coast on a new level.”
Lakes Entrance, Paynesville, Metung, Bairnsdale and other destinations, are up and running again — but there are no holiday-makers.
Gippsland East MP Tim Bull confirms the extent of the problem: “Our businesses have come off three years of drought and then copped this whack that has decimated the tourist season.
“For those who want to help, the best thing you can do is come visit us this summer.”
Destination Gippsland chief executive Terry Robinson said tourism in East Gippsland was worth about $400 million a year, and estimated that the economic cost of the fires could total “tens of millions of dollars”.
He encouraged those planning a holiday to consider the Gippsland towns declared safe for the Australia Day, Labour Day and Easter breaks.
“For areas that lie closer to the fires, people can book now, pay now and travel later,” he said. “That way the business gets the benefit of cash injection now and the person booking can enjoy later knowing they have made a difference.”
Police have urged visitors to observe road closures and respect the privacy of residents who have lost homes by avoiding fire-affected areas. Potential tourists should also contact operators or accommodation providers before leaving home.
The latest Tourism Bushfire info may be found here at Tourism Australia