Tourism

Bushfires update: Domestic tourism to take a hit, flights affected, attractions burn and the industry does its part

This year’s bushfire season has, without a doubt, been the most widespread on record.

The nationwide death toll climbed to a devastating 25 people and six million hectares are estimated to have been lost so far with as many as half a billion animals presumed dead as their homes are engulfed in flames.

The unprecedented fires continue to touch the lives of every Australian industry and travel is certainly not immune.

Domestic tourism to take a hit

Federal Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told The Sydney Morning Herald there was “always a risk” that widespread coverage of the bushfires would impact tourism.

“Many of Australia’s best-known tourism regions have previously faced natural disasters such as bushfires and cyclones yet bounced back in a strong demonstration of their resilience as world-class tourism destinations,” he said.

“We are monitoring the global media coverage and its impact on future bookings closely and assessing how to address the impact of this as the situation unfolds.”

Tourism Australia’s managing director Philipa Harrison said it is now more important than ever that “we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted”.

“Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open,” she said.

“We would encourage all travellers coming to Australia to seek the most up to date information prior to departure, and remain informed about changing conditions whilst on the ground.”

Harrison said the Australian government’s bureau of meteorology is a good starting point for visitors to stay up to date on the latest fire warnings.

Tours affected as industry rallies to offer support

AAT Kings and Inspiring Journeys managing director Matthew Cameron-Smith confirmed that the only area impacted where the companies operate guided tours is Kangaroo Island. AAT Kings has set up a travel alerts page on its website advising that all upcoming trips in Australia are still operating as scheduled however itinerary changes have been put in place for travellers visiting Sydney.

The CEO of The Travel Corporation (TTC), which owns both AAT Kings and Inspiring Journeys, John Veitch, said the company has donated $100,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

“On behalf of TTC, our hearts go out to the devastating loss of life, property, and the staggering amount of wildlife and nature from the bushfire tragedy,” Veitch said.

“A huge appreciation goes out to the outstanding efforts of the NSW Rural Fire Service – the danger they put themselves in on a daily basis to protect the community and its surrounding area is heroic.”

Intrepid Travel has also been impacted in three states, with cancellations in affected areas and further cancellations anticipated.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and updating our safety page regularly for customers and agents,” Intrepid said in a statement.

Intrepid launched a campaign on Saturday to raise funds for the Red Cross, pledging to match funds donated up to $200,000. So far, $163,248 has been raised. You can go here to contribute.

“Like the rest of the country, Intrepid stands in solidarity with communities who are being directly affected and we encourage people to donate to the fund so their dollars are matched by us,” CEO James Thronton said.

Carnival Australia has also pledged $350,000 to support the Red Cross, in addition to $50,000 contributed by P&O to the St Vincent de Paul Society last year.

Entire Travel Group has kicked off a bushfire appeal, donating $20 from each booking deposited in January 2020 to Victoria’s Country Fire Authority, the NSW Rural Fire Service and Wires Wildlife Rescue.

The Lancemore hotel is also doing its part, pledging 15 per cent from every booking made using the code ‘relief’ during January 2020 will be donated to the Red Cross.

Tourism attractions go up in smoke

More than 2,500 buildings have been destroyed, including numerous tourist attractions and accommodations. Notably, Baillie Lodges has confirmed that Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island has “sustained significant damage” and all guests have been evacuated.

“Southern Ocean Lodge is now closed. It is currently too early to accurately estimate a reopening date. The Southern Ocean Lodge team will embark on contacting guests as well as travel industry partners over the coming days to make alternative arrangements for upcoming reservations,” Baillie Lodges said in a statement.

Co-creators of Southern Ocean Lodge, James and Hayley Baillie, said initial plans are already underway to rebuild the luxury property.

Bushfire warnings have been issued for the entire 440,500-hectare island, with 150,000 hectares already burned including the island’s Visitor Information Centre, Western Kl Caravan Park, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat.

Flights affected 

ABC News has reported passengers on a Qantas flight received a shock when their Melbourne to Canberra flights entered a fire-generated weather system.

One passenger, Matt McIntyre, said it just got “greyer and greyer” as the plane entered the weather system known as pyrocumulus cloud.

Source: Hua Tuo via ABC News

“All of a sudden it was pitch black and the plane sort of dropped,” McIntyre told ABC News.

“There was one guy sort of swearing … I heard people down the front vomiting.”

Another passenger, Hua Tuo, said it was orange out the window “then suddenly it was black, and then the turbulence hit”.

The plane was met by emergency services upon arrival in Canberra but no passengers sustained injuries.

Cruise ships on standby

Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Vasco da Gama cancelled its call to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island on Saturday and was on standby to offer evacuation assistance, however, it was not required.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages said in a statement that SeaLink Ferries are on standby to assist.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Cruise

13 Parties charged over last December’s White Island tragedy

by Ali Coulton

The eruption resulted in 22 deaths with many still recovering from the traumatic event that occurred during a cruise ship excursion on the New Zealand Island last year.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Property owner scores early wins against Virgin Hotels, as lawsuit proceeds to trial

A juicy court case between Virgin Group’s hospitality arm and a disgruntled hotel owner has seen the latter chalk up a couple of early wins.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Joyce meets with Victorian Premier over Qantas’ potential HQ move, as thousands more jobs get the chop

Qantas’ chief has taken a spin around Melbourne’s Airport prescient to see if it fits the bill as the airline’s new headquarters, just before another big job cut announcement.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Excite Holidays payout to creditors estimated to be more than previously thought

by Huntley Mitchell

Were you one of the unfortunate ones caught up in the wholesaler’s collapse earlier this year? Consider this a ‘must read’.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Helloworld CEO expects “dramatically reduced” competition will lead to boom time for agencies

by Huntley Mitchell

Andrew Burnes has some seriously good expectations for Helloworld agents, thanks to a predicted lack of competition from rivals.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Visit Sunshine Coast unveils new brand tagline

It’s getting a new CEO, and now Visit Sunshine Coast has a new tagline, too. Rumour has it that the office biscuit tin is next in line for a shakeup.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

REVEALED: All the winners of the World Travel Awards 2020

Find out the top destinations, hotels and airlines to book your clients with post-COVID right here.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

British Airways is flogging its onboard dining sets and bar carts just in time for Chrissy

Unlike Qantas, British Airways is selling its bar carts empty, which leads us to believe it may have missed the point as to why passengers get excited when the bar cart comes around.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

CLIA calls for cruise ban to be replaced by newly proposed measures

The association has been busy making sure the government sticks to its plan of lifting the cruise ban by 17 December by suggesting a range of safety measures.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Intrepid launches cyber sale on 2021 Aussie and New Zealand trips

Slide into your clients’ DMs with these whopping savings, so you can get their 2021 bookings in before the silly season is well and truly upon us.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

South Australia set to open its border to Victorians

It looks like ScoMo’s plan for domestic borders to be open by Chrissy is well on track, with the crow-eaters finally letting those from the Garden State back over their side of the fence.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Rob Thompson named Tourism Fiji’s acting CEO

While the search for Tourism Fiji’s next leader is well underway, the organisation has revealed who will be keeping the CEO’s seat warm.

Share

CommentComments