How Australia’s Forest Fires Have Impacted the Country’s Tourism Industry

by Kaushal Kumar

Since June of last year Australia has been in its “brushfire season,” but this year the impact of the season has been record breaking. The fires have burned over 46 million acres killing 29 people and over a billion wild animals. Some endangered native animals are suspected to be extinct after these fires. This brushfire season has also been the most destructive season on record destroying about 600 buildings, 2300 of which were homes. While wildfires are nothing new to Australia, the season’s effects were worsened by the heat and an extended drought during the season. The combination of the lack of water and high heat lead to the perfect recipe for a catastrophic outcome.

These fires are not only having huge impacts on the land of the country, but also the economy as the wildfires are estimated to have generated $3.5 billion dollars in damage (Source). This includes destroyed housing, buildings, and government infrastructure, like roads and schools. However, these are not the only damages that the Australian economy is facing. The fires in the country have also cost the tourism industry an estimated 4.5 billion dollars due to cancellations.

According to Peter Shelley of the Australian Tourism Export Council, the problem isn’t that people are having to cancel their stay at a lodge or resort because of the risk of fires, but it is the fact that when people cancel their stay at said lodge, instead of choosing a different one, they cancel their entire vacation. Shelley also added that many people would cancel even if the areas that they were staying were not threatened by fire or smoke. The Australian Tourism Industry is calling on its government to help fund an advertising campaign to help bring people back into the country. Shelley told the Financial Review that, It’s a very sensitive time and has to be handled right, but we need to push the message that Australia is welcoming tourists.”

All of these economic problems caused by the fires circle back to one thing: Climate Change. As the effects of global warming continue to strengthen we may see more of these problems in our future, and these brushfires serve as a warning as what may be coming in the future. It is up to everyone, from all parts of the world to help solve this crisis, as it is only a matter of time before something worse takes place.

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