Australia Bushfires: What You Need to Know

by  Lauren Dana Ellman | Feb 12, 2020
Australia / ChristianBunyipAlexander/iStock

For the past few months (up until recently) bushfires have raged through Australia. Thousands have lost their homes, dozens have died, and nearly one billion animals have perished as a result. 

However, it’s also important to address that some of the information being shared online has been misconstrued. In fact, despite the fires, tourism officials in Australia are eager to welcome travelers from all over the world.  

"I want to make it clear that Australia is still very much open for business. Most Australian regions remain unaffected and continue to offer tourists the incredible tourism experiences that our country is known for,” said Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham. 

Here is everything you need to know about traveling to Australia right now:

1. Is it safe to travel to Australia?
The short answer? Mostly yes. Many of the country’s main tourism areas, including the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth — along with the Kimberley region in Western Australia and South Australia’s wine regions — are, for the most part, largely unaffected. 

2. Which areas are safe to visit? 
Many destinations across Australia are safe to visit right now and remain unaffected by the fires. For example, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory are open, eager, and ready for travelers to come explore. Additionally, all international airports have remained open. 

Read More: What's New In Queensland

3. Which areas should travelers avoid, if at all? 
Some parts of New South Wales, including the Blue Mountains, South Coast, and Capital Country are partially impacted but still open for visitors. Kangaroo Island has also been impacted, as was Adelaide Hills; despite this, both destinations continue to welcome visitors (more on that below). Parts of Victoria, like East Gippsland and Upper Murray, are open to travelers despite being partially impacted by the fires. 

4. Why should I visit Australia? 
1 in 12 Australians work in the tourism industry, which means that the best way to support the country in this time of need is to travel to Australia. Birmingham stressed the importance of tourism, especially in places like Kangaroo Island or North Queensland — both destinations that have relied on tourism for decades. Our very own Director of Client Experience & Products is visiting Australia on his honeymoon next week. 

5. What about cruises?
According to Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA), most major cruise lines in the region are operating as scheduled. The trade organization said that only five itineraries have been impacted by the fires and have had “minor adjustments” in order to avoid affected ports. “Of approximately 50 cruise ports in Australia, only two regional destinations have been affected, though it is expected they will be accessible again soon. Major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are unaffected by fires, other than periods of smoke haze, as are most other cruise ports around Australia,” a spokesperson said. 

Read More: What to See and Do in Australia's Northern Territory

6. What is the US saying about Australia travel? 
The State Department is urging US tourists to exercise normal precautions in Australia, but also notes that areas impacted by the fires have increased risk, such as poor air quality, which can increase health risks for some travelers. 

7. How can travelers stay up-to-date?
Tourism Australia has set up an information page to keep travelers up-to-date on the latest information regarding the fires. The page is frequently updated and includes a list of affected destinations and safe-to-visit areas.

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