Tourism operators expect to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, at the very least, as a consequence of the bushfires that continue to ravage communities, annihilate wildlife and render parts of Australia’s eastern coast unnavigable.
With the infernos devastating some of the country’s key tourism regions, such as NSW’s South Coast and Kosciuszko national park, and Victoria’s East Gippsland, almost 4,300 insurance claims totalling nearly $300 million have already been lodged since wide-scale fires began on 8 November - and the bills are predicted to rise, The Guardian reported.
Furthermore, the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) says images of a scorched Australia risk further damage by deterring international visitors.
My last day of the decade felt like the apocalypse. Been covering the Australian bushfires for the last 6 weeks, but haven’t seen anything like yesterdays fire that decimated the town of Conjola, NSW. #bushfirecrisis #AustralianBushfires #NSWisburning work for @nytimes pic.twitter.com/KmVKqDMKsf— matthew abbott (@mattabbottphoto) January 1, 2020
“The summer school holiday period is the high peak season for many of our regional and rural tourism hotspots,” ATIC executive director, Simon Westaway, said.
“It is still too early to fully know and assess the commercial impact but it will clearly run into hundreds of millions of dollars over the near term.”
Meanwhile, Tourism Australia has released a statement on the bushfires, saying it would be “connecting with industry and State Government partners more in coming weeks regarding the bushfires and the pathway forward for our sector”.
“Given the widespread international coverage, we are focussed on developing an approach to minimise any impact on tourism, and to protect and build Australia's reputation as an international tourism destination,” TA managing director Philippa Harrison said.
“Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open.”
"In light of the current situation in Australia, we have reduced some of our campaign activity in the UK," a TA spokesperson told the ABC.
Elsewhere, ATIC has expressed its grief over the loss of one of tourism’s great ‘bush pilots’, Dick Lang, and his son Clayton, in the Kangaroo Island fires in South Australia.
Dick Lang operated one of the country’s oldest air safari companies and “was considered a pioneer of ecotourism in Australia with tours that specialised in harder to reach destinations specifically within National Parks”, ATIC said in a statement.
Still on KI, and the island also lost one of its biggest drawcards, the luxury Southern Ocean Lodge after it was completely destroyed by fires.
With tourism so hard hit, travel operators are doing their part to support relief efforts across the country, from Carnival Australia’s pledge of $350,000 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, to Entire Travel Group’s bushfire appeal, which will see the Aussie company donate $20 per booking to Victoria’s Country Fire Authority, the NSW Rural Fire Service and Wires Wildlife Rescue.
IN RELATED NEWS, just days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was heavily criticised for taking off to Hawaii on vacation, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds thought it a good idea to holiday with her family in Bali.
Pushed by media at a press conference late last week, the Western Australian minister admitted that she spent a “few days” on the Indonesian island around the Christmas/New Years period. We may be wrong, but we’re pretty sure defense of a country extends to natural disasters...
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