Tourism push for bushfire areas

       Tourism push for bushfire areas

17 March 2009

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Australia — A $10 million tourism campaign to encourage visitors to return to bushfire-ravaged communities will be launched today.

The Age believes the advertising campaign, which will be jointly funded by the Brumby and Rudd governments, will focus on promoting major events and festivals in fire-affected communities.

In a separate initiative, Victorian businesses will be encouraged to hold meetings and conferences in bushfire-ravaged communities.

The “We’re Open for Business” project will be launched today at a State Government community cabinet meeting in the Yarra Valley.

The project – co-sponsored by The Age – will target the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Gippsland, the High Country as well as the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges with newspaper, online and radio advertisements worth $70,000.

Tourism Minister Tim Holding said tourism operators had been hit hard by the fires. “Those messages to stay away, important as they were from an emergency services perspective, did have a pretty profound impact on the industry,” he said.

Mr Holding said a business conducting an event or conference would often book an entire venue and spill out into surrounding accommodation providers and restaurants.

Regional tourism advertising was suspended after the February 7 fires, but started again late last week.

In 2006, the Bracks government launched a $2 million tourism and bushfire recovery package following the fires that devastated the region.

Mr Holding said the Grampians fires burnt much of the National Park, but the tourism push was so successful that visitors numbers exceeded the pre-bushfire figures.

“The Grampians is used as a benchmark on how to run a post-disaster tourism campaign,” he said.

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