THE Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a $76 million industry specific bushfire recovery fund.
“Today’s announcement of the Governments Rebuilding Australian Tourism package will be welcomed by tourism businesses across Australia,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.
“We applaud the key initiatives nominated to help the inbound tourism sector to recover, including an increase in international media and social media influencer engagement along with support for the Australian Tourism Exchange which is our largest annual trade show,' he said.
“While tourism businesses on the frontline of recent bushfires have an immediate need for support in their recovery, our global reputation as a holiday destination has been significantly impacted and we need to act urgently to reassure visitors that Australia is open for business.
“The inbound industry has experienced millions of dollars in cancellations from intending international travellers and we are also seeing a significant decrease in forward bookings which we have estimated will reduce inbound tourism revenue by up to $4.5 billion," Mr Shelley said.
“Timing is now of the essence with key booking windows from our larger international markets closing towards the end of February, therefore engaging these markets in the short term, especially via the established tourism trade channels will be critical.
“Our united strategy needs to be strong and nuanced, clearly defined, well-resourced and expertly executed in order to balance the swirling negative perceptions of Australia which have come off the back of the bushfires.
“Australia’s tourism industry is the economic backbone of many of the regional communities impacted by the recent bushfires. As an industry employing one in 13 Australians and an inbound sector contributing more than $44bn a year to the national economy, we can’t afford to waste any time getting our export tourism outlook back on track," he said.
“While Australians understand the extent of the bushfire damage, and have already been keen to re-engage and support the affected areas, we need to work hard to positively influence the narrative around our global reputation as a leading tourism destination.”