January 16, 2020

Visitors encouraged to plan a High Country holiday as tourism industry counts the cost

Release date: 16 January 2020

With improved conditions over the past week, Tourism North East has supported a qualified invitation to visitors to return to the High Country.

While bushfires and smoke are still impacting areas of the Alpine National Park, Mount Buffalo and the Upper Murray, the vast majority of the High Country’s towns and villages have not been directly impacted by bushfires and most businesses remain open. The alpine resorts of Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Dinner Plain and Mt Buller are also again open to visitors.

TNE has confirmed that the High Country’s tourism industry has been hard hit. Two hundred tourism businesses responded to a Tourism North East region-wide survey during the week 2 to 9 January. The survey of that week found that:

  • over half of tourism businesses surveyed reported 100 percent losses
  • a further quarter reported losses higher than 75 percent

Additional modeling commissioned by TNE by specialist tourism consultants, Urban Enterprise, also examined the longer term economic impacts of these fires. This modelling estimated that the March 2020 quarter losses by regional tourism businesses would be (conservatively) between $183 and $208 million.

Looking ahead to the path to recovery, TNE continues to work closely with Bushfire Recovery Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) and Visit Victoria to advocate for and secure recovery funding to help get the region back on its feet. Details will be announced soon of a regional campaign and key projects to assist in that recovery.

Tourism North East Acting CEO, Sarah Pilgrim said today: “We are extremely grateful for the incredible efforts of volunteers, agencies and community members who have helped keep our communities safe. We encourage everyone in the North East to heed Vic Emergency and EPA Air Watch alerts and warnings, stay safe and continue to support one another through these difficult times. High Country communities are resilient and together we look forward to welcoming guests back to the region.”

Anyone intending to visit the region should check the Vic Emergency and EPA Air Watch sites for the latest information.

Within the context of the ongoing situation, TNE has provided some practical ways for industry to proactively participate in several social media campaigns help in their recovery, including the Road Trip For Good, Spend With Them and Empty Esky initiatives that are gaining traction across fire-affected areas. These are detailed at: https://www.tourismnortheast.com.au/bushfire-response-phase-initiatives/

Sarah Pilgrim is available for interview. Contact Sue Couttie, 0419 522 604.

Disclaimer: The Urban Enterprise analysis on the economic impact of bushfires in the High Country Region is based on scenario modelling and may not reflect the actual localised impacts to visitation and businesses in the region. This scenario modelling was prepared to demonstrate potential impacts from the bushfires over the March Quarter 2020 to the High Country Region based on loss of visitation and visitor expenditure. Further detailed primary research into business performance is recommended to determine the actual economic impact of bushfires, following the conclusion of the bushfire event.