Annotation 2020 01 03 160951 - East Gippsland Fires - tourism industry update

East Gippsland Fires – tourism industry update

Destination Gippsland is working with local businesses, community groups and all levels of government to support the tourism industry in response to the fires.

We acknowledge that this is an extremely difficult time for communities in East Gippsland and the wider region and are listening to all the issues faced by our industry.
 
Our collective efforts are focused on the immediate response actions needed while there are active fires and warnings, as well as supporting those areas of Gippsland not in danger of fires but experiencing low visitation.

Website offer – free listing
Destination Gippsland invites East Gippsland tourism operators to take a positive step towards recovery by creating a listing with the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW).   

We will waive the ATDW fee of $295 for operators wishing to either list or renew their listing in 2020. 
To activate this offer, please email aconroy@destinationgippsland.com.au

What’s an ATDW listing?
The function of the ATDW is to support Australian tourism operators with digital marketing to help extend exposure and attract more business.  By listing with the ATDW, you’ll be listed on visitvictoria.com, Australia.com and through the ATDW network be visible on over 250 tourism websites, including the new Gippsland visitor website, visitgippsland.com.au

To create your listing, go to https://corporate.visitvictoria.com/resources/marketing-opportunities/about-atdw

Other tourism work that is being undertaken

Activation of the Regional Tourism Response and Recovery Plan
o Consumer and industry communications
o Media liaison
o Tourism input into government and emergency services response
o Assessment of regional economic impacts and planning stimulus recovery strategies
o Visiting affected areas where possible and meeting local businesses

Marketing actions
o Restarted and increased our Destination Gippsland social media presence with paid boosting, promoting to our key target audiences within Gippsland, intra state and into Melbourne with messages for all of Gippsland that are accessible and not under emergency service warning
o Secured support from other tourism digital platforms and social media sites enabling them to spread the Gippsland message
o We have activated a PR strategy and speaking directly to media encouraging them to promote all of Gippsland that is accessible and not under emergency services warning where possible
o Working with Visit Victoria on scaling up our Gippsland – All Kinds of Wonder campaign for 2020 as soon as possible
o Commenced discussions with Tourism Australia to promote the region to our world-wide audiences and have started planning for appropriate messaging throughout the coming months both domestically and internationally.

What tourism businesses can do
Businesses are encouraged to have a valid and up to date ATDW listing https://atdw.com.au/listing-with-atdw/  (see offer above). Also please ensure your  website has current information and you are utilising social media to communicate directly to your own customer database. 
If you engage with 3rd party online websites such as Booking.com or Expedia, make sure you are checking your listings, rates and inclusions to maximise sales opportunities in the short-term.
Be proactive and provide accurate and reliable information to your guests and forward bookings about the situation and visitor experience in your area, including the impact of smoke haze on air quality.

Reliable information sources
Whilst many areas of Gippsland are unaffected by fire and are welcoming visitors, the seriousness of the East Gippsland fires demands a specific response guided by the decision making and communications from Emergency Services Victoria.
The safety of visitors, local communities and emergency services workers and volunteers is of the highest priority and is determining our tourism industry response.

To support this, we encourage all visitors and tourism operators to access the most reliable information sources including:
• Online  emergency.vic.gov.au
• The Emergency Services app
• Tune to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations, or Sky News TV.
• Vic Roads mobile app
• Visitors can contact their intended destination (accommodation provider or Visitor Information Centre) https://www.visitgippsland.com.au/visitor-information-centres
For tourism operators seeking business resources regarding planning, preparing, responding and recovery from an incident visit https://www.visitgippsland.com.au/destination-gippsland/industry-development/crisis-preparedness

Useful tips and further information sources to assist you

Be careful what you say or post
What you say to the media or post on social media can have flow on impacts for your business and other operators in your area.  Avoid the use of emotive language and negative images, such as photos of affected areas.

Be prepared to be contacted by the media
You do not have to speak to the media, but if you do ensure you have taken the time and considered the key messages you want to say.  However, this should only be done in coordination with Destination Gippsland.

Dealing with Booking Cancellations
If your business is not operational or is inaccessible due to road closures or explicit government warnings due to safety concerns, then you may have no other alternative but to cancel bookings.   In this scenario, both you and the customer are released from the contract and the customer is entitled to a refund of any deposit paid, less any expenses reasonably incurred by you.
Even if your business is open and transport routes are clear after an incident, it is inevitable that some pre-booked clients will decide to cancel their visit, rather than postpone. In this case, the contract is still valid, and your cancellation policy can be applied.
The best solution in both circumstances is to talk to the customer to see if you can negotiate something to suit you both. For example, hold the deposit over to be used at a different time.

For further information
https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/products-and-services/business-practices/contracts/guidance-for-tourism-businesses

Financial institution assistance
Contact your financial institution as soon as possible to discuss your financial situation and possible emergency relief and support measures. 
The Australian Banking Association has prepared a factsheet on assistance banks can provide you if you are experiencing financial difficulties https://www.ausbanking.org.au/policy/customers/financial-hardship/

Your Tax Affairs
The Australian Taxation Office can also provide a range of support measures to assist you in a crisis event.   https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/

Looking after #1
Emergencies are naturally a very stressful time. Your capacity to manage your stress can have a big impact on how staff and customers respond to a threat of an emergency.
By concentrating on your and others’ physical and emotional wellbeing, you can maintain your capacity and reduce the impacts of stress. Strategies to do this include:
• Take regular food, drink and breaks; preferably before you need them.
• Take emotional ‘breaks’ by putting aside fears and worries for a time by doing something practical – maybe for others.
• Physical energy and emotions are tied together. Don’t think about emotional problems when you are tired. Promise yourself to think about
• it when you have rested.
• Manage emotions by not feeding negative feelings. Express positive emotions to others – optimism, faith in the future, confidence in survival.
• If you have negative emotions, talk about them rather than expressing them directly. You inspire others by how you behave rather than how you feel.

If at any time you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one, call Lifeline 13 11 14.

Janine Hayes
Destination Gippsland
jhayes@destinationgippsland.com.au
0488 042 838

Source: Destination Gippsland