As many Canadians woke up to a pile of snow and the daunting task of digging themselves out of it; many Australians are still dealing with the devastation of the ongoing bush fires. But despite recent events, Australia’s tourism board is encouraging tourists to continue plans to visit; albeit to areas that are not affected by fire or smoke. Earlier this week tourism Australia released the following statement:
“It is more important than ever to support Australian tourism providers, whether in unaffected regions or those that will recover from these bush fires in the months and years to come. The best way to support Australia, Australian communities, and the tourism sector is to keep visiting. If you cannot travel to an affected area due to bush fires, one of the many ways to help includes rescheduling instead of canceling a planned trip to support the communities in the coming months.”
Is Australia Safe To Visit?
Australia’s most popular cities are free of fires, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. As of January 12, 2020, all international airports are reporting as operating normally, according to tourism officials.
“I urge people with a booking or considering travel to ensure they have the facts and don’t compound the harm to tourism operators by unnecessarily staying away,” says Australia’s Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham.
He has been challenging what he calls exaggerated reports of the geographical reach of the fires and the smoke.
Are Cruises To Australia Affected?
Many of the major cruise destinations in Australia are not in dangerous areas affected by the fires. However, there are five cruise itineraries that have been adjusted to avoid some regional ports. All cruise lines have been monitoring the situation closely and will be vigilant in any further changes.
“Only minor changes have been necessary to a small number of cruises visiting specific locations in south-eastern Australia,” says Joel Katz, Cruise Lines International Association managing director for Australasia, “The country’s major cities and the majority of its coastline remain open to visitors and most cruises are continuing unaffected and as scheduled.”
An air quality index over 200 is considered hazardous to health. While it is safe from fire, Sydney has seen heavy smoke and discolored skies on many days. Air quality there has at times been among the worst in the world. The nation’s capital Canberra saw an air quality index of 340 in the past 2 weeks. To put that in perspective, Beijing is considered a city with very poor air quality and its worst rating in the same time frame is 170.
While travellers with normal lung and heart health will be mostly unaffected by the current air quality in many parts of Australia, it should be noted that the Australian Medical Association have warned that people with any type of immune system, lung or heart issues check with government sites on the current air quality in the areas that you may be planning to visit. Even if they are considered safe from fire, they may be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems or existing lung and heart conditions. You can find real-time air quality index ratings at this website – https://waqi.info/
Are There Areas Unaffected?
At present, Tourism Australia has noted that Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory are all unaffected by fires. And while South Australia and New South Wales have been heavily affected, numerous areas are still considered largely safe. The Australian Tourism Board has recently released a real-time map denoting which areas are unaffected. You can visit that map by clicking on this link – https://tourism-australia-bushfire-map.alantgeo.com.au/index.html
“Many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open,” said Phillipa Harrison, the managing director of Tourism Australia. “It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted.”
Like Canada, Australia is a large country, with many parts that are unaffected by the current wildfires. Even in New South Wales and Victoria, it’s still business as usual for many as the fires burn far away.
Here at Travel Masters we highly recommend getting travel insurance, checking on airline and hotel cancellation policies, checking air quality index and knowing exactly what areas are affected before you plan any trip to Australia. If you do suffer from a compromised immune system or have heart or lung problems, it will be best to reschedule once the smoke has cleared.