Tourism

Bushfires: PM urges Aussies not to ask for refunds from affected operators, as TA sets up recourse page

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Aussies to support fire-affected tourism operators, while Tourism Australia sets up a dedicated bushfire information page.

Morrison has said Aussie holidaymakers should not ask for a refund from tourism operators who were affected by the devastating bushfires that continue to rage across the country.

“If you booked accommodation and you’re now seeking a refund, can you cut them a break,” the prime minister said on Wednesday, according to SBS News, adding that those whose trips were disrupted should at least consider the timing before chasing a refund.

“Even better – why not, if you’re in a position to do so, then why not even let them keep it,” he said.

To provide further support for tourism operators and travellers alike, Tourism Australia has set up a dedicated page to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on bushfire affected areas.

The page provides useful resources outlining which areas are affected or safe to travel to and can be accessed here.

In some more heartwarming news coming out of the industry, SeaLink has expressed its support for recovery efforts following the Kangaroo Island bushfires, donating half a million dollars for immediate support for the local community and $2,000 of free ferry travel for those directly impacted.

Bushfire warnings have been issued for the whole of Kangaroo Island, with about one-third already burned so far including the island’s Visitor Information Centre, Western Kl Caravan Park, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat.

Southern Ocean Lodge, in the island’s southeastern Kingscote area has released another update confirming the property has been destroyed.

“Buildings, furniture and fixtures can all be replaced; our incredible lodge team cannot and we are truly grateful for this silver lining,” the update read.

“Our current focus is on relocating our team and helping them find jobs – ideally within the Baillie Lodges family and the wider Luxury Lodges of Australia collection. We’ve also had a number of other tourism businesses approach us to offer our staff jobs, a real marker of the generosity of the Australian hospitality industry.”

Industry continues support 

The industry has continued to do its part in offering support to victims and firefighters alike.

Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne said in a statement that on 10 January the business will make a donation for every booking made across the globe, with $5,000 already raised. The home-based agency has also set up a GOFUNDME page for staff and clients who want to donate directly, which you can access here.

Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours has also pledged to donate $100 from every passenger booking made on any of its 50+ tours during January to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Internationally, Singapore Airlines has pledged to donate $100,000 to the Red Cross’ Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal.

But donating isn’t the only way the industry is helping out. Zoe Manderson, the co-founder of travel tech provider, Alpaca, has set up an initiative called Roadtrip for Good, encouraging Aussies to visit communities affected by the fires with “wide smiles and open wallets”.

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