Tourism Industry Gets $76m Reboot As Fire-Hit Town Reopens For Business
The Morrison government is further dipping into its $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, announcing an initial $76 million tourism recovery package.
The initiative aims to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by get tourists travelling in Australia again.
"Australian tourism is facing its biggest challenge in living memory," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Sunday.
"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."
Responding to calls from the tourism industry, the package includes $20 million for a nationally coordinated domestic marketing initiative and $25 million for a global marketing campaign to drive international tourism.
A further $10 million will be provided to promote regional tourism events across bushfire-affected areas.
Through Tourism Australia, the government is providing 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.
Where The Bloody Hell Aren't You? Why Bushfire-Ravaged Towns Need You To Holiday There
A small business owner in one of the nation's bushfire-affected areas has issued a rallying cry for Australians to "travel in their own backyard for the sake of the country" as small-town communities work to rebuild.
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 wants to ensure key international markets understand Australia is 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 ABC television.
Fire-Hit Town Back To Its 'Wonderful' Self
It comes as the NSW Rural Fire Service and police on Sunday gave the all clear for businesses to re-open in the Southern Highlands after the 21,200-hectare Morton blaze impacted towns including Bundanoon and Wingello two weeks ago.
Local mayor Duncan Gair encouraged people to visit the area which is known as a popular day-trip destination for Sydneysiders.
"We want to let people know the Highlands is its normal, wonderful self and we want you all to revisit," he told AAP on Sunday.
Gair said the fires had come at the "worst possible time" for the town which usually benefits from visitors during the school holidays.
"We only have another week to take advantage," he said.
"It's going to be a long, slow trip back to recovery because retail is down in most areas."
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott on Sunday said tourism was the best way to promote economic recovery in towns impacted by fires.
"The best thing you can do to support a bushfire-affected town is show up with an empty stomach and a full wallet," he said in a statement.
This was echoed by Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys who said much-needed tourism could help businesses get back on their feet.
The Morton blaze started after the huge Currowan fire jumped the Kangaroo River and threatened properties in Wingello and Bundanoon on January 4.