Will $52 million solve Australia’s devastating tourism crisis?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
As bushfires continue to burn, and severe weather pummels eastern Australia with dust storms and hail, Australia has approved a massive $52 million tourism recovery package.
The Australian Tourism Export Council expects “massive losses from cancellations and forward bookings” because of the ongoing bushfires, Skift reported. So many people are cancelling trips, as many as 70% of businesses and tour operators are claiming losses between approximately $3,400 and $344,300. The bushfires have disrupted Australia’s peak booking period (December to late February), during which half of all bookings from the U.S., U.K. and Europe are made.
The recovery fund was created to try to convince tourists to travel to Australia, thereby bolstering the economy in destinations hit hardest by the fires. The package comprises three parts: $14 million for a domestic tourism marketing campaign; $17 million for an international tourism marketing campaign — highlighting how Australia is safe and open for business — and the remainder will be used to create new attractions, including concerts, festivals and art, in fire-affected areas.
Australian officials noted that, at almost 3 million square miles, the country is roughly the size of the U.S. mainland and a huge portion of the country remains unaffected by the bushfires.
Grant Hunt, CEO of the Australian tourism company Voyages, told TPG earlier this month: “While our sincerest sympathies remain with those communities [affected], it’s important for international visitors to understand that Australia is an incredibly vast land and 97% of key tourist destinations, such as Uluru, are unaffected by the bushfires.”
“My message to anyone thinking about a holiday — from here or overseas — is that Australia’s towns and our incredible parks and beaches are open for business and they need your help,” said Simon Birmingham, the minister for trade, tourism and investment, in a statement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “Australian tourism is facing its biggest challenge in living memory.”
He added, “One in 13 Australian jobs rely on tourism and hospitality, so our $76-million investment is an urgent injection to help all those hotels, restaurants and cafes, and tour operators get back on their feet.”
In addition to the bushfires, Australia’s drought conditions have caused massive dust storms, according to the Associated Press. One such cloud of red dust, approximately 186 miles wide, descended over towns in New South Wales over the weekend. In Canberra, severe thunderstorms brought golfball-sized hail and floods.
If you encounter a dust storm during your trip, Lifehacker advises you to find cover as soon as possible. If you’re driving, pull over immediately. The same is true for people who find themselves in the midst of a hailstorm.
Travelers with existing plans to visit Australia should check to see if they have trip protection coverage provided through a premium credit card. You’ll also want to check your flights before departure, because several airlines have canceled flights because of low visibility.
As Hunt pointed out, many popular destinations in Australia remain safe to visit, including the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth — although there are reports of low air quality because of the bushfires. It’s a good idea to check with your hotel before arrival, especially if you have asthma or another preexisting condition.
Before you travel to Australia, be sure to check the most recent bushfire information from the state or territory you’re visiting:
Many organizations and volunteer services are actively assisting with firefighting and recovery efforts throughout Australia, and there are plenty of ways to support those efforts and others.
Consider donating to the Australian Red Cross, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (which is helping Australians rebuild and providing food, clothing and emotional support) and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, which is focused on long-term support for affected communities.
Featured image by John Crux Photography/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees