A survey has revealed that the Australian tourism industry stands to lose around $4.5 billion - the equivalent of around 10% of normal earnings - as a result of ongoing bushfires that have plagued large parts of the country.
Conducted by the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), the survey shows a significant softening of forward bookings compared to last year.
“ATEC undertook a survey of its members who represent both Australian based tourism businesses as well as Inbound Tour Operators - the people who sell Australian travel in-market - with 70% of respondents recording significant cancellations of travel to Australia by internationals,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“The value of cancellations on individual tourism businesses and inbound tour operators managing itineraries for travellers range from $5k to $500k with significant impacts seen across key inbound markets with US, UK, and European inbound markets being the most impacted.
“International visitors are cancelling because of fears around air quality, safety and the impact fires have had on our tourism offering as well as a lack of certainty on how long it will take for us to recover, so the sooner we can communicate a strong, positive message, the better.”
According to ATEC, the booking window for around half of all UK, European and US travellers is typically between December and the end of February, which makes the bushfires extra harmful.
Mr Shelley says an immediate campaign of “positive images and messages” is needed “to regain consumer confidence, especially in these markets, before this traditional booking window closes”.
“This will give us an opportunity to partially reduce the economic impact on the industry,” he said.
“There is no doubt our industry will take a hit, what we need is a clearly defined, well-resourced and expertly executed recovery strategy starting right now in order to stem the flow of cancellations and regain the confidence of intending international travellers.”
ATEC’s #bushfirebounceback social media campaign is promoting products around Australia that are open for business and ready to welcome international visitors.
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