/Tourism loses $4.5b to bushfires as overseas visitors cancel

Tourism loses $4.5b to bushfires as overseas visitors cancel

But rather than opt for another lodge, they simply cancelled the entire trip despite the fact the other two lodges on their itinerary were not smoke or fire-affected.

Mr Shelley said a “conservative” estimate of industry losses at this stage was $4.5 billion, where international tourists alone deliver $45 billion a year to the economy (international and domestic tourists combined generate more than $130 billion).

Once the jewel in the crown of Australia’s luxury lodge portfolio, Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island is now a burnt shell.  Supplied

ATEC’s 850 members include the biggest players in the industry, such as Qantas, Helloworld, Accor Hotels, IHG and the large wholesalers like Pan Pacific Travel and Goway Travel.

“Members are saying all price points of the tourism market have been affected, from high net worth individuals cancelling a trip that was to include multiple luxury lodges in most states, through to ‘mums and dads’ opting out of a local cruise or a nature-based experience,” Mr Shelley said.

While Tourism Australia had wisely pulled its $15 million Matesong campaign – fronted by Kylie Minogue – from the British market only a couple of weeks ago, Mr Shelley is pressing the federal government to urgently finance and create a new, “thoughtful” global marketing campaign to promote Australia abroad post fires.

The Kylie Minogue and Adam Hills $15 million Tourism Australia ad campaign has been pulled from the British market.  Tourism Australia

“If we come out with a strong global campaign soon – if we get our messaging right as the fires dissipate, that could really help stem the cancellations and boost forward bookings,” he said.

“It’s a very sensitive time and has to be handled right, but we need to push the message that Australia is welcoming tourists.”

ATEC’s $4.5 billion dramatically eclipses the $1 billion in losses to tourism flagged earlier this week by the Australian Tourism Industry Council.

ATIC executive director Simon Westaway joined the call for new marketing creative saying “now is the time for clear and demonstrative actions … It requires substantive investment because the early signs around international visitor demand, including cancelled bookings, is concerning.”

Mr Westaway said while the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) release of record international visitor arrival numbers for the year to November 2019 – 9.4 million annual arrivals up 2.5 per cent – were heartening, these figures “must not inhibit the strong, necessary response by government and industry to counteract the stark anticipated falls in overseas visitors”.

The ATEC members’ survey revealed the top reasons for cancellations to be fear and concern around air quality, as well as safety and access; lack of certainty and clarity on a timeline for recovery; and negative news suggesting devastation and destruction beyond the reality.