Heron Island and Southern Great Barrier Reef by Narelle Bouveng for her Turtle Trifecta story in Escape only - Weekend and Eye titles
Heron Island and Southern Great Barrier Reef by Narelle Bouveng for her Turtle Trifecta story in Escape only - Weekend and Eye titles

TOURISM PLEA: Businesses focus on global visitors

TOURISM businesses are encouraging international visitors to still holiday in the region amid global news coverage of Australia's widespread bushfire disaster.

While Gladstone region businesses have not had a high number of cancellations, they are prepared to increase promotion of the region's holiday opportunities.

Across Australia international tourist bookings are down 10 to 20 per cent due to the bushfires, which could cost the country at least $4.5 billion by the end of the year.


The Australian Tourism Export Council said a survey of its 850 members found the year-on-year reduction could get worse, with 70 per cent saying they had had cancellations for trips ranging in value from $5000 to $500,000.

The results, reported by the Australian Financial Review, prompted the council to call on the Federal Government to finance and create "thoughtful" global marketing.

Heron Island Resort, which relies heavily on international tourists, is preparing a video to show the Southern Great Barrier Reef has not been affected by bushfires.

Aldesta Hotel sales manager Karen Sweeney said the resort had contacted One Pacific, an American marketing company, to provide footage from Heron Island beach to promote that it is "business as usual".

"Of course going forward I believe that our tourism industry is going to have to work hard to ensure inbound bookings don't drop because Australia's image has been impacted by the bushfire crisis," Ms Sweeney said.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham last week urged tourists not to cancel visits to Australia.

He said foreign media coverage had exaggerated the geographical reach of the fires.

Discovery Coast Tourism and Commerce president Amber Rodgers was relieved the region had not experienced any cancellations due to the recent bushfires.

Despite not losing business this year, Ms Rodgers said they had experienced cancellations in the aftermath of the 2018 Deepwater and Baffle Creek bushfires.

Ms Rodgers said that at the time DCTC had a strategy aimed at informing tourists the region was open for business.

"We made sure we sent out short media releases during that time to let them know we could still operate even though there were bushfires not far from the area," she said.

"If (businesses) do a good job of letting people know the facts, they will be rewarded by people sharing that information for them."

Gladstone Area Promotion Development Limited chief executive officer Gus Stedman said the region had experienced a small number of cancellations to holiday bookings recently.

Mr Stedman encouraged businesses and residents to promote the region's attractions.

"As a community, businesses and residents alike must promote the region's beauty in a positive way," he said.

"Everyone is a tourist at some point and spending some time and money locally is one of the best ways to stimulate your local economy."