Australia braces for $1.3 billion tourism hit

”Tourists should consider postponing their trip to affected areas until the danger of natural disaster has passed,” the alert reads, warning that fires could continue until April.

“Even in areas not directly affected by bushfires, smoke is causing poor air quality.” 

The announcement is the latest blow for Australian tourism, with the UK also warning tourists about the bushfire threat. 

According to the director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism, Sarah Gardner, the increased warning level will have an impact on Americans’ decisions to travel to Australia, and when. 

This could be damaged by the warning, although Gardner said Tourism Australia efforts to educate travellers about fire-stricken areas could mitigate this. 

While Gardner believes it’s too early to say what kind of financial hit awaits, tourism operators believe they lost nearly $30 million from cancellations following the 2013 Blue Mountains fires. 

“We estimate that a 10 per cent reduction in tourism for impacted regions could be worth $1.3 billion,” the economists wrote in a briefing note on Thursday. 

However, they also issued a disclaimer: it’s too early too say what the ongoing impact will be, given the bushfire danger period will continue until the end of March.

“Inbound tourism is… likely to be impacted by the heavy coverage of the bushfires globally,” Oliver said, pointing the finger at “ridiculous” and inaccurate maps depicting the extent of the fires. 

“This [impact] may be short lived but it could last a year or so.”

“The summer school holiday period [from December – January] is the high peak season for many of our regional and rural tourism hotspots,” he told The Guardian. 

“It is still too early to fully know and assess the commercial impact but it will clearly run into hundr of millions of dollars over the near term.”

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