Federal government rolls out $76 million tourism package in wake of bushfires

Posted: 23rd Jan

The Morrison government is further dipping into its $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, announcing an initial $76 million tourism recovery package.

The initiative aims to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping to get tourists travelling across Australia again, in the wake of the bushfires. 

Responding to calls from the tourism industry, the package includes $20 million for a nationally coordinated domestic marketing initiative and $25 million for a global marketing campaign to drive international tourism.

“Australian tourism is facing its biggest challenge in living memory," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“One in thirteen 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. 

“This is make or break for many businesses and tourist hot spots and not just in those areas directly hit by the bushfires.

The government has also committed a further $10 billion to promote regional tourism events.

Popular tourist destinations such as Kangaroo Island in South Australia and Batemans Bay in New South Wales have already been devastated by the fires.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham encouraged tourists to return to regional spots in the wake of the bushfires, saying regional Australia was "open for business". 

“Tourism is the lifeblood of so many communities around Australia and it’s absolutely critical that we help to get people back visiting those communities that rely on tourism,” Mr Birmingham said.

“These bushfires have dealt the biggest reputational blow to our tourism industry that it has ever faced internationally. Losses caused by cancellations and collapsing booking numbers stretch well beyond those communities directly affected by fire into the many Australian towns that rely on international visitors to sustain tourism jobs. 

“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.

Prior to the devastating fire seasons, Australian tourism was once again spruiking itself via the so-called "Matesong" tourism campaign, featuring Kylie Minogue and primarily aimed at UK tourists. 

However, the crisis led to the pulling of the ad campaign.

Tourists are being deterred from visiting Australia, with the United States Department of State upgrading its travel advisory level for Australia to level two - the same as Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea. 

Close to 800,000 tourists from the US visit Australia each year, but there's fears that number will slow slump as pictures of the Australian bushfires play out on TV screens and online around the world. 

Source: SBS - https://www.sbs.com.au/news/federal-government-rolls-out-76-million-tourism-package-in-wake-of-bushfires