A horrible season of forest fires in different parts of the country and the devastating impact of the coronavirus on travel abroad have left Australia in the midst of a tourist crisis.
As the favorite fire-damaged vacation spots in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria begin to rebuild, these communities – and neighboring regions that have remained untouched by the flames – are facing their biggest battle.
Despite being open to business, vacationers have yet to return to these affected regions if the time is right to visit now.
Looking at the map below that has been broadcast and widely republished on social media around the world during the height of the fires, it’s easy to understand why visitors thought the whole country was on fire and took it as a warning.
In mid-January, municipalities away from fires – where businesses remained open and truly open – reported international cancellation rates of up to 60% due to the misconception.
In the areas directly affected by the fires, the impact was even worse with tour operators and accommodations that recorded a 100% drop in bookings during what is usually the busiest period.
A recent Victorian poll found that operators in cities outside the areas affected by the fires were still reporting cancellation rates of between 10 and 60%.
In the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, hotelier Jerry Schwartz of the luxury Fairmont Resort plunged bookings from 95% occupancy to less than 20% during the summer.
But it’s not just instant vacation bookings that have been successful.
Australian Tourism Council executive director Simon Westaway said plans had been canceled or postponed as of 2020 due to forest fire coverage.
“We have already suffered millions of dollars in cancellations and our main concern is that early bookings have really just evaporated,” added Peter Shelley, tourism export adviser.
Unfortunately, most cancellations come from local travelers who choose to stay home.
According to the Australian Tourism Export Council, forest fires have so far cost the country $ 4.5 billion in lost revenue. A figure that Westpac’s estimates could reduce Australian production to $ 10 billion, which will inevitably be blown away even further by the coronavirus that affects China and the global tourism sector.
COMMUNITY REQUIRED FOR URGENT INJECTION
Hundreds of companies, tour operators, coffee shops, boutiques and hotel owners from the Blue Mountains, along the southern coast of New South Wales, East Gippsland and Adelaide Hills and on the island of Kangaroo have received cancellations months in advance and reduced reservations due to concerns about the impact of fires.
Dubbed “the biggest challenge in living memory” for the industry, the federal government announced a $ 76 million recovery package in response to this summer’s forest fires, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying tourism Australian has been an “urgent contribution” to businesses that continue to fight for dollar tourists
The ATEC survey says that the main reason people canceled their travel plans to Australia – even away from Easter – is related to air quality, safety, confusion around the recovery timeline and the damage from amount in some regions.
But as the rain has extinguished most of the fires and the bush begins to grow back, the message from the communities is strong and clear. Don’t delay your stay: it’s time to book your next vacation home.
DO NOT DELAY YOUR STAY
The coming months will be crucial in rebuilding the communities hit hard by the recent forest fires.
News.com.au launched the Don’t delay your stay campaign to encourage Australians to support communities that need our help by visiting. In the coming weeks we provide detailed guides, interactive maps and videos showing all the fantastic places at your fingertips.
In the coming weeks the Don’t Delay Your Stay campaign will provide detailed travel guides to the Blue Mountains, East Gippsland, Kangaroo Island, Adelaide Hills and South Coast and will add more each week to give you a complete guide on everything to see and do in some of the most beautiful parts of our great country.
By booking a trip to these regions we can all help the local economy and pump the necessary funds into cities that need tourist money to survive.
CLICK ON THE MAPS BELOW TO FIND OUT MORE
While donations have come from all over the world, the number of visiting tourists has decreased by 80% in some regions compared to this period last year. It’s time to start turning it upside down.
As part of our national campaign following the forest fires, this campaign aims to encourage Australians to plan, book and take a domestic vacation and share their experiences with friends and online with the hashtag #DontDelayYourStay.
“There is no doubt that Australian tourism has been hit hard by the recent fires,” said Phillipa Harrison, CEO of Tourism Australia.
“It is essential to help the sector get back on its feet as soon as possible.
“The desire of Australian municipalities to help communities affected both directly and indirectly by fires has been overwhelming. This campaign tries to show them how they can directly support recovery simply on vacation here in Australia.
“Whether it’s a trip by car along the coast, taking a trip from one state to another or ticking a destination from a list of destinations, and spreading the word that Australia is ready to welcome more travelers. “
Discover the Australian holidays of news.com.au for all your travel inspirations do not delay your stay