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Call to revive Australian tourism

  • 20 February 2020


Pathos has descended upon Australia, as heavy as the blanket of smoke that hung around for months as the country beneath it burned. Summer’s joie de vivre has gone, and in its place a sense of doom encircles us. Family and friends are unusually subdued, bereft somehow, of the ebullience that comes with a shiny new year. Even the rain has dampened the mood: spiteful bursts of water ripping into crisped lawns and washing soil away.

But succour for the ecological grief consuming us all might come from the very place that has suffered climate’s wrath: the mother country. And the balm that we offer to those affected by the bushfires — money, compassion, patronage — might be the very balm that heals us, too. For generosity, which Australians excel at, has been shown by various studies to have numerous benefits for the giver: elevation of one’s happiness, better health outcomes, social connection, co-operation and gratitude.

This communal outpouring during the bushfires has an opportunity to perpetuate itself indefinitely, even though the embers have been extinguished and those not directly affected by the fires have gotten on with their workaday lives. For even as the fires burned, Tourism Australia was mounting a campaign to encourage Australians to holiday locally instead of taking their patronage abroad, and to persuade international tourists to visit, too.

In part, this was an effort to stem the spread of misleading information about the precise location of fires: diagrams broadcast on American news shows (and spread on Twitter by people including President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr) indicated that the flames were dancing right across the country rather than in the specific regions to which they were contained.

But the ‘Holiday Here This Year’ campaign was also aimed at harnessing the collective expression of empathy — so robust and heartfelt during the crisis — so that it might be sustained and meaningfully deployed in future.

‘[The] whole area is screaming for people to come back,’ business owner Paul Walker told The Guardian from Jervis Bay, one of the affected areas.


'The country is a world unto itself, so vast that most of its citizens haven’t explored even a fraction of it.'  

Tourism Australia, in turn, reiterated the impact of the fires on unaffected parts of the country.

‘[This] package will also highlight that these regions are still offering incredible experiences and want tourists to visit,’ it said in a statement.