Fire fallout

13 January 2020

Bushfires that have devastated communities and ecosystems across large tracts of Australia have filled all of us – across Australia and much further afield – with great sadness and dismay.

University of Queensland academics have discussed a number of issues that have emerged during the bushfire incidents.

Tourism recovery

Associate Professor Gabby Walters – School of Business

'Natural disasters don’t affect people’s long-term love of a destination. After Black Saturday in Victoria, visitor numbers returned to normal levels from 12 to 24 months, and within six months regular visitors were returning.

After the 2011 Queensland floods, tourists who were most likely to return were motivated by wanting to help the industry recover. That is the motivation that bushfire-affected destinations will need to tap into once they are ready and willing to receive visitors.

Celebrities giving visibility to the bushfires are a double-edged sword; they help much-needed fundraising, but can affect our recovery efforts. All the images shared right now paint a picture of doomsday – they show red skies, smoke and heart-breaking images with the depiction that the entirety of Australia is ‘on fire’ and unsafe. It is vital that celebrities encourage their fans via social media to visit affected areas after the disaster to help recover our image and support communities and businesses reliant on tourism.'

Contact:; +61 402 085 497.

Associate Professor Judith Mair – School of Business

'In the longer-term, Australian tourism will be affected by the bushfires, because people choose holidays based on the image of a destination, and Australia’s is being badly affected right now with an outpouring of images showing despair and danger. While these images are important for raising necessary funds for immediate relief, influencers, media and the government need to give consideration to post-disaster messaging to help support and rebuild the people and businesses that rely on tourism to survive.

Kangaroo Island has already stressed the importance of tourism to support the island and is actively encouraging people to help the rebuild efforts by planning a trip to the island’s unaffected areas – this needs to be supported by positive imagery that shows the beauty of the island and appeals to altruistic nature of people to help.'

Contact:; +61 412 057 758.