Published on : Tuesday, January 14, 2020
The regional towns hundreds of kilometres from bushfire-affected areas have seen a drop in tourist numbers in the weeks following the fires, tourism bodies say. The destinations as far away as Daylesford have reported a lower than usual number of visitors, despite being far from any bushfires.
Last week the U.S. updated its travel advice for Australia, telling citizens to exercise “increased caution” due to the bushfires, which have destroyed more than 2000 homes and claimed 27 lives across the country. The affected areas in Victoria included East Gippsland and the high country, where accommodation providers surveyed by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council reported a 100 per cent cancellation rate for the month of January.
But the survey, sent to members last week, found operators in towns outside fire-affected areas also reported between a 10 and 60 per cent cancellation rate, chief executive Felicia Mariani said. Ms Mariani said 150 operators had responded so far and, along with cancellations, they had reported a dramatic drop in future bookings.
“The knock-on effect to regions that are hundreds of kilometres away from the fires is simply astounding,” Ms Mariani said. “Historically, tourism operators – 50 per cent of their income comes in in this period from Christmas through to Easter.” She said some operators would use their business continuity insurance to cover the shortfall, but those not directly affected by the fires were unable to access it.
“That is something that would really help these folk in just trying to make ends meet over this really difficult crunch time. This whole issue of cash flow is one of the biggest areas we’re contending with,” she said.