The first cruise ship returned carrying tourists to bushfire devastated Kangaroo Island in Australia on January 19. It is a much needed economic boost for the locals over there. At least 29 people and millions of animals have died due to the raging wildfires.
Kangaroo Islands is famous for its wildlife but the recent bushfires have wreaked havoc burning more than 200,000 hectares putting a lot of species at risk. The Australian government said on Sunday that it will raise funds of $76 million for the tourism industry which plays a vital role in Australia's economy.
Great to have our SATC CE @rodharrex on Kangaroo Island with Federal Tourism Minister @Birmo and Premier @marshall_steven to talk everything tourism, and how we can all help SA's $7.8 billion tourism sector bounce back - and fast. #BookThemOut pic.twitter.com/DcUvMhBw1X— South Australian Tourism Commission (@tourismsa) January 19, 2020
Australia expects to lose billions of dollars in the tourism sector as international tourists cancelled their trips due to the raging bushfires that have gripped the country since September, according to the reports on January 17. The number of tourists planning to visit Australia has fallen sharply 10-20 per cent since the fire began and it is estimated to lose AUS$4.5 billion ($3 billion) this year, as per the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC).
The main concerns of the foreign tourists are the toxic levels of air quality, safety, and the impact of fires on tourism, ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said. According to the international media reports, the wildfires have killed at least 28 people, burned a larger portion of the area, devastated the wildlife and engulfed the key cities in toxic smoke.
ATEC added that the crisis had hit travel from the US, UK, and Europe which generally witnesses 50 per cent of the annual tourist bookings from those markets. Shelley added that the tourism industry in cooperation with the government needs to urgently pull a message out that the tourist destinations are largely unaffected by the fires.
Bushfires have reportedly killed more than a billion animals, ranging from insects to cattle, kangaroo, and koalas. According to the media outlet, the original figure was around half a billion only from the NSW region which did not include bats, frogs or invertebrates.
Most of Australia was choked because of the smoke from bushfires. The intense smoke also choked the southern city of Melbourne and as a result disrupted the build-up to next week's Australian Open tennis tournament. However, the thunderstorms that accompanied the rains late night on Wednesday cleared away the smoke and then moved on towards fires in the southern state of Victoria.