NSW bushfires prompt holiday cancellations from tourists concerned about smoke and flamesDecember 17th, 2019 | | Tourism
Tourism authorities have urged holidaymakers to think twice before cancelling Christmas and summer getaway plans due to extensive bushfires across New South Wales.
- More than 1 million hectares have burnt across NSW this bushfire season, many in popular holiday destinations
- South coast businesses have been affected by a fall in tourist numbers due to the Currowan bushfire
- Tourism authorities are urging people not to cancel their holidays as many areas still remain unaffected
More than 80 bushfires are burning across the state, many of which are close to popular holiday destinations.
Australian Tourism and Transport Forum, chief executive Margy Osmond said it was important for people planning to travel during the holiday period to get the right information about fires within that region before they made any decisions to cancel.
“It is the busiest time of the year for a lot of our regional communities from a holiday point of view, so that’s why I say check,” she said.
“Don’t assume the place you were going to is going to be a problem.”
But some places are already seeing the effects of bushfires on tourism.
The Currowan blaze, burning just north of Batemans Bay in NSW, has ripped through more than 77,000 hectares and has forced the closure of parts of the Kings Highway and Princes Highway.
Small businesses on the South Coast are worried about the months ahead, with reports many holidaymakers have already cancelled their summer plans.
Alison Miers, president of the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce, said businesses were worried about the potential lengthy duration of the road closures.
“I’ve been here 38 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.
“There’s just not the numbers in town. The roads are empty.” she said.
Lilli Pilli cafe co-owner Tammie Goodliffe said trade was down significantly over the past week.
“We did 25 per cent of our regular Sunday [trade] at one of my other cafes in town and this cafe is also down 50 per cent at least,” she said.
“It’s scary coming into Christmas this year knowing that the waterfront accommodation clientele that come to us have all cancelled this summer,” she added.
Large stretches of land have also been burnt on the state’s north coast, from Forster right up to Evans Head.
Damian Kelly, the Mid North Coast Business Chamber’s senior public affairs manager, said there had been no reports of mass holiday cancellations, despite fires affecting the region.
“Hopefully people continue with their holiday plans and don’t cancel anything at the moment,” he said.
“Obviously people should keep an eye on emergency conditions and make decisions on what is safest — but don’t cancel your holiday plans yet.”
Ms Osmond said the bushfires and smoke had so far not affected overall tourism numbers and it was important to put the current bushfires in perspective.
“Major weather around the world and extreme events is now a challenge for the tourism industry,” she said.
“Yes, we’ve got bad bushfires and thus smoke at the moment but it’s not like we’re other cities in the world that are polluted 24/7.
“This too will pass … but it’s difficult for the industry and the country at the moment.”
Broulee camper Matthew Gallagher said he hoped road closures from bushfires would not deter others from holidaying on the south coast.
“I think this has inconvenienced a few people. We had to go the long route but it’s definitely worth the trip down,” he said.
The Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to support one another by shopping locally in the lead up to Christmas.
“It’s a beautiful place to live and it’s a beautiful place to visit and we just need to support each other through this time,” Ms Miers said.
“We’re still open for business and we want people to come for Christmas.”
Sourced by Mike Barrow