TOURISM DOWNTURN: The North Coast region is suffering a downturn in international tourism due to the publicity the bushfires received around the world.
TOURISM DOWNTURN: The North Coast region is suffering a downturn in international tourism due to the publicity the bushfires received around the world.

Bushfires have turned international tourists away

THE North Coast has not been immune from the negative tourism impacts stemming from the international coverage of the bushfires.

The regional manager of the NSW Business Chamber, Jane Laverty, said the fires have had a "massive impact on tourism in the region".

She said some businesses were reporting a downturn of between 10-20 per cent on the same Christmas holiday period last year.

"But the numbers are changing daily," she said.

Ms Laverty said headlines like 'Australia is burning' across the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada were turning international tourists away.

She said the region, before the bushfires, was starting to feel the impacts the drought was having on the domestic tourism market.

"The fires have compounded that," she said.

"I believe it is an impact we will feel for a number of years to come.

"There are fears about the year ahead with forward bookings down and, specifically, international bookings are considerably lower than previous years."

Byron Bay is the most well known international tourist destination in the region.

However, the downturn in visitor numbers the coastal town attracts has flow-on economic effects throughout the region as tourists get out of Byron Bay, keen to spend their "experience dollars".

Ms Laverty's advice to businesses was to "know your numbers" by examining figures from the November-to-January period from 2018 and 2017.

She said that provides a starting point for developing new strategies to deal with any loss of trade, such as focusing more on the domestic or regional market.

Those figures also could be used in applications for Federal Government support following an announcement of a $76 million tourism recovery strategy.

Ms Laverty said local people can also get behind businesses that have been impacted by the drop-off in tourism and splash cash "in their own backyard".