Rising dollar adds to regional fire fear

Rising dollar adds to regional fire fear

11 October 2010

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia —  Online shoppers may be lapping up the Aussie dollar’s steady climb towards parity with the US dollar, but it isn’t good news for everyone.

Many industries are already feeling the pain and if our dollar goes head to head or passes the value of the Greenback, it will mean another economic hit to businesses which can ill-afford to carry economic burden.

One of those industries is tourism. President of the Walhalla and Mountain Rivers Tourism Association, Michael Leaney told ABC Gippsland’s Mornings Program that punches were coming from all directions and tourist operators were doing all they could to stave off a knockout blow.

“People say, ‘this is the first time in years that we’ve had this rise, now is our opportunity to get on that plane and go to Disneyland or go to Europe while we can’,” Mr Leaney said.

“There certainly is a detrimental affect on the local tourism industry. I suppose on a local level (Walhalla) we have decided to promote times, like winter, which is traditionally our quieter time in this part of the mountains and that will be our major campaign for 2011.

“It is very difficult to compete with the value of the Aussie dollar compared with the Greenback.”

Adding to the challenge is the perception domestically, that regional Victoria is an unsafe destination because of the risk of bushfire.

Mr Leaney said “state-sanctioned paranoia” about travelling in country Victoria had not yet been addressed.

“The ‘see a tree and flee’ mentality that has been drummed into everyone, in what is no longer summer, but ‘bushfire season’, probably has the greatest affect of all,” he said.

“You’ve got to remember for regional Victoria, about 90 percent of our market is actually from Melbourne and I suppose people in Melbourne look at it from, ‘look, I can go to Tullamarine (airport) and I can be on a plane and off. They’ve got plenty of choices thrown at them.

“Then on the other hand they’ve got people saying to them, ‘look, in summer don’t go into regional Victoria because it’s potentially dangerous’,” Mr Leaney said.

He said while it is tempting to head overseas, holiday makers should also try to “get into their own backyard”.

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