As the country braces itself for worsening fire conditions expected over the weekend, the industry continues to offer its support and provide information for tourists.
The South Australian Tourism Commission’s chief executive Rodney Harrex issued an update on the Kangaroo Island fire, which has killed two people and destroyed numerous tourism businesses.
“We know at this stage, the luxury Southern Ocean Lodge, Hanson Bay Cabins, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Western KI Caravan Park and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat have suffered extensive damage,” Harrex said.
“The Flinders Chase National Park has been substantially damaged with the Visitor Information Centre and café sadly destroyed. The devastation is heartbreaking.
Harrex said the eastern side of the island including Kingscote, Cygnet River and Penneshaw have not been impacted and tours will still operate. However, travellers are being urged to check their accommodation or travel providers and heed all warnings.
The Australian Tourism Export Council’s (ATEC) managing director, Peter Shelley, also issued a statement asking members in bushfire areas to provide feedback as to whether their business has been impacted so it can compile a list for inbound tour operators and Tourism Australia.
The ATEC also confirmed it will work alongside its industry and government partners to develop and implement a recovery strategy.
“Importantly, at the right time we want to make sure we send a strong message to international visitors that Australia remains open for business,” Shelley said.
Another resort burns
Selwyn Snow Resort has been ravaged by a bushfire which tore through the Snowy Mountains over the weekend.
A notice on the resort’s website said it had suffered “extensive damage” and its owners are working closely with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and relevant agencies to arrange access to the resort.
“While we do not yet know the status of lifting and snowmaking infrastructure, we can confirm that the resort buildings have been severely damaged by the fire,” the notice read.
The Blyton Group, which owns the resort, said it is committed to rebuilding “an even better Selwyn”.
Industry support continues to pour in
On top of the already overwhelming response from travel companies, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) and Air New Zealand have also stepped up to the plate, contributing $250,000 and $100,000 respectively.
TAA’s contribution, which is in partnership with the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), was made to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal on behalf of its members.
“Pubs in regional areas are the hearts of their communities – especially in tough times like these. Hotels in fire devastated areas are already providing respite and relief – and have been since the fires started,” said John Whelan, CEO of AHA NSW.
“I encourage all in the hotel industry to support this worthwhile initiative, and note the welcome contribution of hospitality groups which have already donated.”
In an email to staff, Air New Zealand’s CEO Jeff McDowall said the airline is also supporting relief efforts by offering travel to New Zealand firefighters and Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel and will continue to provide “whatever practical assistance might be required”.
Air New Zealand’s donation has been made to the Australian Red Cross.
Celebrities urge travellers to #GOWITHWEMPTYESKIES
Celebrities and influencers including Sunrise presenter Edwina Bartholomew are urging consumers to support fire-affected rural towns by booking a road trip.
Bartholomew joined the #GoWithEmptyEskys campaign on Instagram, encouraging Aussies to book a trip to NWS’s south coast to help rebuild affected communities.
The presenter posted the call to arms on her Instagram, which she said was originally featured on a travel Instagram called the Adventuring Webbers.
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Love this via @lisamessenger, the @kindnessfactory and @adventuringwebers Tourism is what keeps many communities on the South Coast afloat. People are abandoning holiday plans and fleeing fire affected areas that depend on profits made from busy summers by the beach. @neilwrites spent our honeymoon road trippin’ down South. We stayed at the Narooma Caravan Park, drank cocktails at the Tiki Bar, ate toasted cheese sandwiches in Bega, popped in to see the Whales at Eden and carried on through to Victoria. We are planning a similar trip this year once the bushfire emergency has subsided. Hopefully you can do the same. Spend some money in small towns, fill up your car at the local servo, eat fish and chips on the wharf, take a fishing trip. Simple pleasures that will make a huge difference to a small business somewhere.
“Tourism is what keeps many communities on the South Coast afloat. People are abandoning holiday plans and fleeing fire-affected areas that depend on profits made from busy summers by the beach,” Bartholomew said in the caption, adding that she and her husband spent their honeymoon on a road trip along the south coast.
“We are planning a similar trip this year once the bushfire emergency has subsided. Hopefully you can do the same. Spend some money in small towns, fill up your car at the local servo, eat fish and chips on the wharf, take a fishing trip. Simple pleasures that will make a huge difference to a small business somewhere.”