Australia’s unprecedented bushfire crisis has not only caused global shock and sympathy, but has also damaged The country’s reputation as a safe and glamorous holiday destination, hit tourism hard, and some areas are threatening to take months to years to restore their old days. Afp reported that thousands of passengers were evacuated from coastal towns and international tourists cancelled flights, while the US State Department even raised security advice for travel to Australia, warning people to “be vigilant”
In the 12 months to June 2019, more than 9 million overseas visitors reportedly brought in nearly A$45 billion in tourism revenue, while Australians spent A$100 billion on domestic tourism.
Tourism Australia’s director-general, Mr Harrison, said it was too early to estimate how much the overall impact of the bushfires would be, but Mr Berman, a lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney who specializes in tourism risk and disaster management, estimated that holidaymakers across the region had disappeared and lost “billions” of Australian dollars as the fires hit during the summer tourist season.
As the threat of wildfires eases in recent days, Australian government officials are encouraging tourists to return to the areas damaged by the fires and ask them not to ignore tourist sites that have not been affected by the disaster.
But rebuilding the damaged town is expected to take months, if not years, and there are fears that some residents will leave their original tourist areas and seek alternative jobs elsewhere.
“It’s a serious problem because you don’t want tourist towns to lose their workforce, so you have to have some very strategic thinking and planning to keep those people in the community,” says Gardner, director of the Griffith Travel Association. ”
But there are also optimism that Australia’s tourism industry will survive the crisis. Berman says many countries have experienced natural disasters on the same scale as they are now in Australia, but they can still recover if the strategy is right.