Australia — Oberon Tourism estimates that the drop in visitors since the October fires has cost the area economy nearly $50 million and about 200 jobs.
Chairman Randall Walker said people continued to stay away.
“The exaggerated reporting of the bushfires has put in the mindset of consumers – that they should perhaps not visit the Blue Mountains,” he said.
But Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said the media played in important role during the bushfires which destroyed more than 200 homes, and consumed tens of thousands of hectares.
“The reason we were able to get the messages out to people about being safe and doing the right thing was because the media was there for us,” Mayor Greenhill said.
Eric Sward, general Manager of Mountain Heritage Hotel said the lack of visitors to an area that relies heavily on tourism dollars had taken a toll on hotels and inns where bookings have dropped dramatically.
“We got about, in one day I think 60 phone calls in a row that were cancellations saying I can’t come cause the fires are on and so on,” he said.
“We even got calls from as far away as Holland saying we’ve got to cancel our group cause the mountains are on fire”, he said.
Tourism leaders say most businesses in the Blue Mountains have seen a drop in profits. They fear if tourists continue to stay away, businesses could start to fold, and those workers who’ve lost their jobs will leave the area.