Tourism

BUSHFIRES UPDATE: Non-essential travel to Kangaroo Island banned, resort rolls out snow guns

All non-essential travel to Kangaroo Island has been banned today, as the ongoing bushfire crisis worsens.

South Australia Tourism posted a notice on its website advising that visitors are being encouraged to stay away from risk areas as severe fire danger plagues the island.

“It is critical that anyone on the island or travelling to the island heed advice at all times and regularly check the information about bushfire warnings on the CFS website,” the notice read.

The page offers information on how to help the community on Kangaroo Island as well as providing alternative regions to visit.

Sustainable tourism expert Dr Freya Higgins-Desbiolles said yesterday that it would be unethical for visitors to continue to visit the island.

“Kangaroo Island is a tourism-dependent economy, and while tourism operators and authorities are calling for people to keep visiting Kangaroo Island, the fires are not yet out, CFS volunteers and defence personal are still being deployed, and infrastructure like the water treatment facilities are damaged,” she said.

“Additionally, critical services like the Kangaroo Island ferry are needed to transport emergency service personnel and equipment. I just think it’s too soon at this moment.

“While it is still possible to visit Kangaroo Island at this time, it may not be the most viable or ethical decision under the current circumstances.”

Over one-third of Kangaroo Island has been burned so far, destroying Southern Ocean Lodge, the island’s Visitor Information Centre, Western Kl Caravan Park, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, snow machines are being used by the state’s alpine resorts ahead of worsening fire conditions.

According to ABC News, two evacuation warnings are in place and one emergency warning has been declared in the area, including Mount Buffalo due to an out of control bushfire nearby.

Mount Hotham Resort Management Board chief executive Jon Hutchins told ABC News his team had been clearing vegetation and placing snow machines around critical sites.

“In the ski resort here we’ve had all our snow guns in position which create a fog for any ember attack,” he said.

“They also create dampness on the ground so the embers can’t take off or take hold.”

Industry continues to offer support

The Australian Cruise Association (ACA)’s CEO has expressed her gratitude to members who are lending a hand where possible.

“These include our port members such as Tasports in Burnie,  Port of Melbourne Corporation and Flinders Ports in Port Lincoln, who recently received diverted cruise line calls at short notice,” Jill Abel said.

“Recently joined member, Svitzer, played a crucial role on the south coast in the midst of the crisis last week offering shelter on their tug boats to the local community and working with the RFS to pick up stranded firefighters and workers around Twofold Bay.

“In Westernport, they donated towage services bringing HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore into berth.  Plaza Premium Lounges is hosting all international firefighting crews in their departure lounges and will match any donations received from their members. Sealink is providing free passenger ferry access to Kangaroo Island along with a generous financial contribution to support the local community.”

Accessible Accommodation has posted a call out to accommodation providers to ask if they can spare a night or two for evacuees with disabilities.

“The response has been wonderful, and our followers have also opened their homes to evacuees as well. Red Cross, NDIS and Ideas Org are all using our Facebook group as a resource,” the group has advised.

Donations continue to flow in, with Wendy Wu Tours confirmed as a drop off location for Backpacks for Bushfires, who is rallying the support of local communities and businesses to provide vital ‘back to school’ supplies for school children in bushfire affected areas.

The Fullerton Hotel has also rolled up its sleeves, pledging to donate $60,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Services and St Vincent de Paul Society.

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