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Bushfires may cost tourism industry billions

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Fears continue to rise for the future of Australian tourism with one industry leader saying the bushfire crisis could cost the sector up to $5 billion.

Fears continue to rise for the future of Australian tourism with one industry leader saying the bushfire crisis could cost the sector up to $5 billion.

The Australian Tourism Export Council says the number of international tourists booking holidays to Australia is down 10 to 20 per cent due to the bushfires, and will cost the country at least $4.5 billion.

Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway says losses are growing and many businesses may be unable to recover from the unprecedented blazes.

"We're not trying to exaggerate the number, but if you look across regional Victoria and what's happening in NSW and South Australia, a lot of infrastructure has been decimated," Mr Westaway said.

"Even in some areas unaffected by the bushfires we've seen more than a 60 per cent increase in booking cancellations."

TUMURUMBA, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 11: A Rural Fire Service firefighter Trevor Stewart views a flank of a fire on January 11, 2020 in Tumburumba, Australia. Cooler temperatures forecast for the next seven days will bring some reprieve to firefighters in NSW following weeks of emergency level bushfires across the state, with crews to use the more favourable conditions to contain fires currently burning. 20 people have died in the bushfires across Australia in recent weeks, including three volunteer f

Mr Westaway said the sector was suffering from the "contagion effect" with many domestic travellers deciding to stay home during peak holiday season.

"The level of spending in many holiday destinations has fallen through the floor, which will have a lasting impact on these small-to-medium-sized businesses," he said.

"Some of these businesses will not recover but the industry as a whole is very resilient.

"This is not a new phenomenon - we've dealt with disasters before."

Tourism industry leaders met with Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham in Sydney yesterday.

"The two big takeaways were that it was very constructive," Mr Westaway said.

"The second thing is the wider industry is on the same page of what the issues are. Across the board bookings are through the floor, cash flow in small business operators is in a very delicate situation. It's a red-alert situation in many cases.

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"There is a commitment by industry to get the regions re-booted."

Kylie Minogue in 'Matesong' (Tourism Australia)

The Morrison government wants to combat misinformation regarding the bushfires and promote tourism attractions.

"We are acutely aware of the challenges our tourism industry currently faces and that tourism businesses all around Australia are feeling the pressures of cancellations and reduced bookings," Senator Birmingham said.

"The government stands ready to help our tourism industry to not only rebuild infrastructure where required but to continue to promote the incredible tourism experiences that are still on offer across Australia in unaffected areas but also in fire-affected areas when it is safe to welcome tourists again."

The federal government has also pulled its tourism campaign featuring Kylie Minogue from British markets. They want to encourage visitors to Australia after the bushfire.

With AAP

Source: 9News

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