For the past several weeks, Australia has been struggling with some absolutely horrible fires. Every couple of days, my partners at Southern World Australia would send me email reports entitled “Bushfires Update”, so I’d know and could action the impact on any properties and client holiday plans – and, of course, the impact on wildlife and the people of this fantastic continent.
Almost every day, they’d include a photo of the Sydney bridge and opera house – so travel advisors could see how clear the skies were. While they were battling on the ground, they still wanted to welcome visitors – and, of course, protect the holiday investments of those already planning to come.
This week, I got an email that was entitled “Recovery” – and it was amazing to see.
As a travel advisor, it feels like Australia is in a similar situation to the Caribbean with the hurricanes a year or so again. Folks stopped travelling to the Caribbean generally – so I was proud to play a small role in getting the word out that over 70% of the Caribbean hadn’t been affected by the hurricanes. So, while we wanted to support and donate to help those affected, we also wanted to encourage people to still visit the unaffected areas – because those folks needed your tourism dollars to help the whole arrive recover and thrive.
The same is true in Australia now. They need you to visit – more than ever.
And here’s an important fact – did you know only 3-4% of Australia was impacted by the bushfires? So, 96-97% was not impacted at all. And while we want to support and donate to help those affected, just like with the Caribbean, we want to still encourage people to visit the unaffected areas.
And there’s nothing better than focusing on RECOVERY – especially today, as it is Australia Day!
As my partners at Virtuoso have noted, “On Australia Day (January 26), the country’s national holiday, we’re thinking about our friends down under. Besides donations, the best way to support Australia is to visit. Bushfires have caused significant damage, but main tourism destinations are ready to welcome visitors.”
Tourism Australia is launching a new consumer ad campaign called “Holiday Here this Year” – see Holiday Here This Year
I’m going to be working with Intrepid Travel on promoting Australia with our February 3rd event . And I’m so impressed with the work Intrepid has done with their Intrepid Foundation to support the Australia bushfire efforts.
So, join us on February 3rd in Ottawa – https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/travel-info-fundraiser-australia-real-life-experiences-w-intrepid-travel-tickets-82589416167
I’ll also be doing something with Southern World in the weeks ahead. You can see some of their reports below about the status of the country.
The main message to take away – Australia is open for business! Let’s plan your trip!
More info from my partners at Southern World:
It’s great to advise that the recovery process is now in full swing. Both Sydney, Melbourne and their surrounding regions have had good rainfall and milder temperatures over the past week, and this has really helped with the controlling and extinguishing of bushfires in both regions. There had been concerns that the air quality for the Australian Open in Melbourne could cause delays in play, but they only delays this week have been because of heavy rain. No-one is complaining!
For updates on all regions of Australia, we still recommend the following 3 sites for a good overview:
Tourism Australia Bushfire Information website: https://www.australia.com/en/travel-alerts.html
The bushfire information page: Interactive map: https://tourism-australia-bushfire-map.alantgeo.com.au/index.html
How to support the recovery page: https://www.australia.com/en/facts-and-planning/useful-tips/bushfire-safety/how-you-can-help.html
It’s also important to correct the perceptions created by international media and social media posts, which have indicated that the whole of Australia has been on fire. Only 3-4% of the country has been directly impacted by the bushfires, and as you can see in the link to the interactive map above, there’s still a lot of country unaffected and ready to be explored. The Australian landscape is very resilient and areas affected by the bushfires are already seeing regrowth with wildlife returning and going about their business.
Travelling to Australia and around Australia is one of the best ways to help bushfire recovery. Tourism Australia just launched a new domestic campaign, Holiday Here This Year. I’ve attached the Press Release. It’s a wonderful idea, and I’m sure many Australian will support it. Tourism Australia will also be launching an international marketing campaign in coming weeks, along with other measures to ensure that the message is loud and clear that Australia is open for business.
Sydney and New South Wales (NSW)
Sydney: Business as usual
South Coast: From Nowra (161 kms/100 miles south of Sydney) to Milton and Ulladulla (224 kms/139 miles south of Sydney) is open for business. Some fire grounds further south to Eden just north of NSW/Victoria have been impacted by high temperatures and winds on Thursday (23Jan) and there was some increased fire activity on existing firegrounds. The New South Wales portion of the popular self-drive coastal route between Sydney to Melbourne down to Eden, is currently open, and caution should be exercised if traveling in this route. The Princes Highway from south of Eden to the New South Wales/Victoria border is closed for emergency repairs caused by the bushfires.
Blue Mountains: Tours from Sydney to the Blue Mountains have been operating regularly now for the past couple of weeks and offering spectacular views and visibility. Previously visited attractions with selected tour operators such as Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens are being visited again with great guest feedback. AEA Luxury Tours are offering a special if you book on a Full Day Blue Mountains tour before 31Mar20 for travel up to 20Dec20, your guests will receive 50% off a Morning or Afternoon Panoramic Sydney tour.
Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley Resort: Wolgan Valley Resort re-opens Saturday 1st February, which is fantastic news. The resort itself has not been impacted, and the landscape and hiking trails around the resort are currently undergoing some necessary remedial works in preparation for welcoming guests.
Melbourne and Victoria
Melbourne City: Business as usual, with no interruptions to the Australian Open Tennis, apart from the occasional rain we’ve desperately needed this week.
East Gippsland: The Princes Highway, the main road between Sydney to Melbourne, is still closed in places while Emergency Services and the Australian Armed Forces work to make the route clear of fallen trees and other debris. It is hoped that this clean up may be completed by the end of next week (31Jan) and the road re-opened. Gipsy Point Lakeside Resort will remain closed until early March. From Melbourne it is safe to travel to the towns of Metung and Lakes Entrance.
The remainder of Victoria’s major tourist regions, including South Gippsland and Wilson’s Promontory, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Great Ocean Road, and the Grampians are operating normally. One of our preferred Tour Operators in Melbourne, Echinda Walkabout tours has been helping out with the impact from the Bushfires Click Here
Adelaide and South Australia
Adelaide City and the Barossa Valley: Business as usual
Kangaroo Island: Tour operations continue to increase on Kangaroo Island with Exceptional Kangaroo Island, Kangaroo Island Odysseys and Sealink Tours all back in operation with some slightly amended tour itineraries.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding clients that have future travel plans to Australia, please do not hesitate to contact our Operations Team