Now is the time for clear and demonstrative action. Australia's tourism industry is open for business
– Simon Westaway, executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council
The Australian government has pledged AUS$76m (£39.7m, US$52m) to revive its tourism industry in the wake of the bushfires that are currently affecting the country's southeast coast.
The bushfires, which have been raging since the beginning of the year, have wiped out high-season tourism in many coastal areas and are expected to cost Australian tourism up to AUS$4.5bn (£2.35bn, US$3bn), with visitors from the US, UK and China, as well as domestic holidaymakers cancelling their trips over safety concerns.
"The entire industry has been hit," Peter Shelley, director of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), told The Financial Review.
"Poor air quality, safety concerns, and lack of certainty on recovery are the key culprits," he said.
Simon Westaway, executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council told Reuters: "People have basically stopped travel."
The fund will aim to provide support to Australia's local economies, as well as small businesses and people whose jobs have been impacted by the fire, by encouraging tourists, both domestic and overseas, to visit the country.
60 per cent of the budget has been earmarked for both domestic and international marketing campaigns, while the government has promised an additional AUS$10m (£5.2m, US$6.8m) for the promotion of regional tourism events, while a social media campaign, called Stay With Them, urges domestic holidaymakers to vacation at home.
"Now is the time for clear and demonstrative action. Australia's tourism industry is open for business," Westaway told SBS News.
"The early signs around international visitor demand, including cancelled bookings to Australia, are concerning," he added.
Leo Seaton, a senior corporate communications professional at Tourism Australia, said: "Now's the time to kick start the recovery, by holidaying in our own backyard and supporting the many communities and local operators who rely so much upon our patronage."