With approximately 8.5 million international tourists in 2018, there’s no question that Australia is a popular destination for many around the world. However, recent news may be affecting those statistics as aggressive bushfires continue to ravage parts of the country. Due to the extreme weather and current conditions, many parts of the country have seen an impact from the damage, especially when it comes to the tourism and travel industries.
Australian bushfires take over the country
While parts of Australia have been burning since September of 2019, the bush fires still show no signs of stopping anytime soon. Having already burned millions of acres of land, the fires, due to a combination of factors, such as drought, wind and severe heat, have claimed the lives of 25 people, and are some of the worst that the country has seen in years. Fires are still currently taking place in places like Melbourne (Victoria), Adelaide (South Australia) and Sydney (New South Wales), and authorities have declared a state of emergency in some regions, shutting down roads and even calling for evacuations. With fires taking place in several popular tourist spots, it brings a major question as to how the fires are affecting the travel industry.
What this means for the travel industry
Unfortunately, the Australian fires have brought bad news for the tourism industry, as the severe heat, evacuations, and state of emergency announcements all play a part in the affects. While many worry about the damage done to Australia’s reputation as a beautiful holiday destination, others focus on how the fires have affected anyone involved – from businesses to residents – not to mention the air quality. The current conditions also has an impact on the travel industry, and while most airports (including Sydney’s) are still operating as usual, visibility may cause delays in air travel. Travelers may also decide to look elsewhere to enjoy their holiday, especially if their plans involved the affected areas. However, for tourists who have already made plans – or are even already in Australia, figuring out what to do next may be on the top of the to-do list.
Should you cancel or change your plans?
If you’re already in Australia, chances are that you won’t be able to return home earlier than you planned, unless you want to pay a potentially pricey change fee. Due to the circumstances, Etihad Airways has taken action by waiving their change fees for Australian residents who have been affected, though for others, getting informed about your airline’s policies is a good idea, and can save you from unnecessary stress and costly surprises in the long run. However, if you do need to change your plans while you’re there, cashing in on points or rewards that you have collected can be extremely useful. Getting frequent flyer points on eBay can easily be done by doing your online shopping through airlines like Qantas, and can be a major help in saving some money when rebooking a flight.
If you’ve already booked a flight for a long-awaited Australian getaway, you might be wondering if you should change your flight, or simply cancel your plans altogether due to the fires. However, unless your plans involve going to or traveling through the affected areas, you shouldn’t be too quick to cancel – in fact, there are still many tourist destinations that remain unaffected, and keeping your plans if possible can do a lot to help the tourism industry. If your plans do happen to involve the affected areas though, canceling or changing your plans might be a good idea, as is staying informed and consulting with your travel agent to discuss your options.
Australia is a great travel destination with many beautiful sights to see. However, with the recent bush fires, the tourism and travel industries have taken quite a hit. If you plan on visiting Australia anytime soon, reevaluating your plans may be necessary if they involve the impacted areas.