It’s Australia’s fourth biggest export industry, but tourism operators are reporting a triple whammy this Summer from the devastating bushfires in December and January; to the current flooding on the east coast, to bans on Chinese tourism due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Australian tourism operators in the regional coastal townships that so rely on tourism say the Federal Government’s ban on travellers has exacerbated the impact bushfires, leaving many struggling to make ends meet.
Summer is normally the busiest time of year for small businesses in the breezy coastal towns of Victoria, NSW, and Queensland but this summer bushfires ravaging much of the east coast has seen trade almost ground to a halt.
Tourism operators in many of these towns say that about 70 per cent of their business depends on Chinese tourists, many predict they may not be around next year to take advantage of any likely pick-up.
Tourism operators in the NSW Blue Mountains have also seen a decline of about 75 per cent in visitors since the world-wide coverage of the bushfires in the World Heritage-listed National Park.
As visitors took to social media to warn others to steer clear, the number of busloads of tourists each day has fallen to about four from 15–20, a spokesperson for the Blue Mountains Backpacker Hostel in Katoomba said. The train and cable network of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains also had 50,000 fewer visitors in December,
Hotels in Sydney had reported a 10 per cent drop in guest numbers in December, event before the Coronavirus outbreak saw Chines tourists banned from Australia.
The long-running bushfires saw hundreds of national parks in the south-eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, thronged by 100 million visitors a year, closed.
The coronavirus spread and recent flooding have compounded the tourism down-turn with charter boat operators describing the effect as a “double-whammy”.
The Australian Government described the ban on foreign nationals travelling to Australia from mainland China is necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus. There have been 15 confirmed cases in Australia.