The Federal Government has announced a $76 million recovery package focusing on rebuilding Australia’s tourism industry in light of the bushfire crisis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the package was an “urgent injection” of funds for tourist hot spots affected by bushfires, saying: “This is make or break for many businesses.”
Mr Morrison said Australian tourism was facing “its biggest challenge in living memory” after the summer’s bushfires, which have dominated headlines around the world.
The industry is believed to have lost “hundreds of millions of dollars” from the bushfire crisis.
“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,” Mr Morrison said in a statement to the ABC.
“This is about getting more visitors to help keep local businesses alive and protect local jobs right across the country and especially in those areas so directly devastated such as Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains and right along the NSW Coast and East Gippsland in Victoria.”
One of the goals of the new funding is to change the world’s perception of Australia, with the Australian Tourism Industry Council telling the ABC this week the international perception was that “the whole country’s on fire”.
The United States has warned American travellers to “exercise increased caution” in Australia while a major Australian tourism advertising campaign in the UK has been put on pause.
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The government has set aside $20 million for marketing to domestic travellers and $25 million for a global tourism campaign to advise international visitors that Australia is “safe and open for business”.
A further $10 million will go towards creating new attractions in bushfire affected areas.
The government plans to give grants of up to $1.5 million towards events that will attract tourists such as concerts, festivals art installations and tourist walks.
Through Tourism Australia, the government will provide an additional $9.5 million for its international media and travel trade hosting program, as well as $6.5 million to support tourism businesses attending at its annual trade event.
Australia’s diplomatic network is also receiving $5 million to promote the country being open for international education and exports as well as travel. Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham is encouraging Australians to get out there and spend the next long weekend or school holiday within Australia to support tourism businesses.
He also wanted to ensure key international markets understood Australia was still open for business.
“Most Australian tourism attractions are untouched by bushfire, and that people can still come and have the same incredible experience visiting Australia that we’ve always prided ourselves on,” he told the ABC.
The package also includes funding to encourage international publicity for Australia’s tourism industry and spread the message that Australia’s educational and export sectors are still open for business, as well as drive attendance to the Australian Tourism Exchange.
The tourism package was drawn from the government’s $2 billion national bushfire recovery fund.
Tourism is a significant part of the economy in regional Australia, with 43 cents of every visitor dollar spent in the regions.