SYDNEY – The devastating impact of Australia’s bushfires on the country’s hospitality sector is emerging with estimates indicating the tourism industry will take a one billion dollar hit as visitors stay away from regional Victoria and New South Wales – the two states hardest hit by the fires.
Cancellation rates of more than 60% are being reported despite pleas from hotel and holiday park operators for people to continue with their planned holidays.
The vast majority of cancellations are from the domestic market but industry experts are warning Australia's reputation as a "pristine" destination will suffer due to worldwide coverage of the fires and loss of wildlife.
According to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, there has been A$57 million (US$39.3m) in lost bookings as a result of the fires with some parks having forward booking cancellations of up to 80%.
Preliminary hotel performance data for December 2019 shows Sydney Drive Regional, a submarket within a two-hour-drive radius of Greater Sydney, has been greatly affected by the bushfires, according to hotel performance agency, STR.
“These regional locations are popular tourist spots for family holidays in vacation homes, hotels and holiday parks,” STR added.
“The post-Christmas period to the end of January is peak season, when so many local businesses rely on the transient tourist trade. Moreover, with road closures through January, we will watch to see the impact more broadly."