SYDNEY, 24 January 2020: Australia says it wants tourists to return and explore places untouched by the bushfire inferno to help the country’s beleaguered economy bounce back.
Tourism officials are saying the best way to support the country’s journey back to business as usual, is to book a trip and visit tourism communities that are facing an uncertain future, the loss of property and livelihood.
The bushfires that decimated millions of hectares in the southeast the country in New South Wales, Victoria and parts of Queensland and South Australia are still burning, but recent storms brought some relief.
The fires came at the worst possible time as the summer months are the peak season for both domestic and international travellers.
Over 18 million hectares have burned in the Australian bushfire season as of mid-January according to media reports, destroying over 5,900 buildings including over 2,800 homes.
After initial devastation of the fires, impacts are ongoing. An estimated billion animals, and many more bats and insects, are likely to die over the coming weeks as a result of lost habitat and food sources. This loss is part of a much bigger picture of a world where biodiversity is in steep decline.
As a result of intense smoke and air pollution stemming from the fires, in January reports indicated that Canberra measured the worst air quality index of any major city in the world. It forced the closure of the capital’s airport earlier this week.
According to the World Health Organisation, older people, those with cardiorespiratory diseases or chronic illnesses, and children are particularly vulnerable.
(Source UN Environment Programme)